Intern View: First Lessons

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Intern View: First Lessons

Intern View: First Lessons   

By: Roman Nikolaev, Student at Vanderbilt University, AASA Digital Comms. Intern Fall 2022

 

RomanFirstBlogPost2 

 In my first two weeks with AASA, I have learned so much more than I imagined I would. This position aligns strongly with my goals and interests as an Education Studies and English double major, and has already taught me the importance of both coordination and presentation of resources and information. During the first few days of my internship, I learned about AASA’s different social media platforms, how digital content is created - and how content performance varies across platforms based on user interaction. Managing digital content through a content management system was a first for me, but with the guidance of AASA's Gayane Minasyan, I am now able to confidently navigate both the front and back ends of AASA’s digital content production. However, I learned about much more than just content creation and management in my first few weeks.

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Exposure to the resources that AASA provides school administrators and superintendents made me aware of the vast importance a national organization like AASA holds for leaders in the field of education. The rich surveys and studies that AASA conducts and publishes for its members and the public are critical to the ever-growing discussions surrounding controversial topics in school districts. Many of these surveys can and should be used in coordination with broader bodies of research to address key inequities across education. With the help of AASA's Juli Valentine, I now understand how to present this research on social media platforms in a professional manner. Absorbing the vast resources that AASA has to offer in the form of webinars, reports, and even within communities has also been vital to developing my understanding of this organization’s importance.

Superintendency and school administration are not careers that I encountered often in my time as a student in the K-12 public education system. I am now aware that this is because of the enormous responsibility that comes with these positions and how much learning is constantly required. I am proud to be a part of AASA, an organization that is committed to providing accessible information and resources for the learning needs of superintendents and administrators. 

 

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I am extremely grateful for the lessons on content creation and management that I have received from my AASA mentors, what they have taught me about their organization’s role in the field of education is invaluable. I now understand the extent of the work that AASA does, and I will continue to be mindful of its values and goals in any of the social media posts I make or websites I edit.

 

 

Intern View: Value of Membership

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Intern View: Value of Membership

 By: Kennedy Miller, student at the University of Maryland, print and digital publications intern at AASA

            The goal of an internship is to get work experience, connect with professionals and understand the industry you’re interning in. Throughout my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with members of the AASA staff and gain an appreciation of the core values and entities of the association. As an intern, this has been beneficial in understanding the organization’s culture, the value of the work that AASA staff does and the impact webinars, toolkits, conferences and membership programs have on educational leaders. 

            I met with Meghan Moran, senior director of membership and marketing. As a fellow marketer, I enjoyed learning from an experienced professional. She offered interesting insights on the marketing field and working for an association. This is my first experience working at an association like this and it’s fulfilling to know the work done at AASA pursues a mission and strives for success for educational leaders across the country. 

            Moran explained how she works across departments to help deliver benefits and content to AASA members, such as weekly newsletters and editions of School Administrator magazine -- materials I’ve had the opportunity to work on before meeting with her. Later in the week, I took a deeper dive into understanding AASA’s membership program and had a conversation with Lori Vines, director of membership and affiliate services. 

            AASA’s membership program serves more than 9,000 members and 13,500 school districts, representing 50 million students. Becoming an AASA member benefits superintendents, cabinet-level educational leaders and education professionals, and aspiring school leaders. As an AASA member, educational leaders receive federal advocacy and representation, subscriptions to School Administrator, access to newsletters and toolkits, networking opportunities and discounts on professional learning opportunities, conferences and other events. 

            One of the biggest tangible benefits of membership for superintendents is AASA’s legal support system and professional liability insurance. Superintendents face legal issues and controversy daily. It’s comforting to know they can receive support and resources to face these issues with the help of AASA. 

  • Find out more about becoming an AASA member here
  • Learn about different membership categories here
  • Review membership benefits here 

 

Intern View: Learning at Learning 2025 National Summit

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Intern View: Learning at Learning 2025

By: Kennedy Miller, student at the University of Maryland, print and digital publications intern at AASA

social team

This past week, I had the opportunity to join AASA at the Learning 2025 National Summit. Inspirational, forward-thinking educational leaders from some of the top districts in the country attended to discuss innovative practices and the future of education. After years of distanced learning, webinars and virtual connections, it was wonderful to see everyone in person.   

I sat in on multiple  Demonstration System presentations. AASA, in partnership with the Successful Practices Networkand Battelle for Kids recognized 13 schools as ‘Lighthouse’ systems, serving as models of positive change in public education.

dan schulerI heard from the energetic and animated David Schuler, superintendent of High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Ill., and former AASA president. His district aims to reshape what “ready” looks like across the country for students and is future-focused, getting students ready for not only college, but careers and life. “Students can only dream what they can see,” said Schuler. Students can explore post-secondary career opportunities and visit colleges with their families. College isn’t for everyone and it’s important for school leaders to recognize this and support students heading toward multiple future life paths. 

 I also listened to Ann Levett speak about the work she does as superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County (Ga.) Public Schools. Levett wants students to be prepared to do one of four things after graduation: enroll in a post-secondary education; enlist in military services; get employed; or become an entrepreneur. She brings learning alive by providing real-world opportunities through local partnerships. For example, students at Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools have the chance to sit in on surgeries, drive forklifts and grow their own food in gardens.    ann levett 

 I had the honor of meeting Levett and sharing my own high school experiences. In high school, I had planned to pursue a career as a physical therapist. I had the opportunity to attend a cadaver lab and shadow medical practitioners as part of my school’s partnership with a local university. This experience was essential in showing me what I didn’t want to do — and that’s half the battle. 

Attending a post-secondary education was my personal path after graduation. However, that isn’t the case for every student. Districts at the Learning 2025 Summit recognize this and provide resources to prepare students for wherever their lives may take them. Schuler emphasized in his presentation that graduation rates don’t matter. What matters is what students do and who they become after they walk across the stage. 

I wrapped up the week by attending the closing keynote session with Robert Peters and Ray McNulty from the Successful Practices Network. In their inspirational speech, they encouraged school leaders to reflect on the best practices they learned from other leaders during the week. 

I learned that education is a lifelong process, that some of the best learning opportunities happen through real-world experience, and that making connections and building relationships is essential for emotional and intellectual success. I look forward to checking back in next year and seeing the progress school leaders made. 

closing keynote

For More on Learning 2025  

 

   

   

 

 

Intern View: Making Virtual Connections

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Intern View: Making Virtual Connections

By: Kennedy Miller, student at the University of Maryland, print and digital publications intern at AASA

During my second week as an intern at AASA, I had the opportunity to meet multiple staff members over Zoom. In a virtual working environment, it’s nice to be able to put a face to a name and understand each department’s role.   

I started my week by attending a meeting with AASA’s marketing and communications team. Jimmy Minichello, director of communications and public relations described the “Marcomm” team, comprised of marketing and communication staff members, as the “Grand Central Station” of AASA.   

The staff acts as the core, central team to provide support to all departments at AASA. The team comes together every few weeks to discuss how to communicate AASA’s resources and messages to the public. Although each team member has a different role and background, they each seem to wear many hats and collaborate on many different functions. 

I also met with Minichello one-on-one. In our meeting, we discussed his responsibilities, which range from writing press releases and producing videos to managing social media and taking photographs. He offered amazing insight into the company and his career. He showed me interview videos he conducted with superintendents at AASA's IDEAL Cohort's in-person meeting in Glendale, AZ. I hope to be able to produce similar videos when I attend the Learning 2025 National Summit in late June. 

 

  Learning 2025 summit

 

I also met with Kayla Jackson, AASA project director. Jackson leads many important projects and programs that impact students. One of the programs, the Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, has made a monumental impact on students’ health, happiness and success at school. We all have heard about the importance of eating a good breakfast (growing up, my mom always said I needed “brain food”). Yet, many students skip the most important meal of the day. This program ensures that students have access to a good meal before school.   

Later in the week, I had a meeting with Valerie Truesdale, assistant executive director. Truesdale leads and manages Leadership Network programs and other services of the association. Last week, I sat in on a webinar she moderated, called Developing Effective Principals: What Kind of Learning Matters. As a former superintendent herself, Truesdale offered interesting insight and a different perspective into the public education system and how AASA’s work impacts superintendents.  

It was evident that Truesdale, like all AASA staff members, is immensely passionate and proud of the work she does. In all my meetings this week, this was a common theme. AASA staff members believe in the organization’s cause and will work tirelessly to support superintendents and students in public education. As the daughter of a kindergarten teacher, I know school leaders play a large role in the development of our society and I believe they deserve more credit than what is often received. I’m pleased to be a part of AASA and support its mission.  

First Impressions: An Intern's First Week at AASA

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First Impressions: An Intern's First Week at AASA

By: Kennedy Miller, student at the University of Maryland, print and digital publications intern at AASA

Kennedy Miller Profile I began at AASA as the print and digital publications summer intern this past week. As a journalism and marketing double major, this position aligned perfectly with my goals and interests. In my first few days on the job, I put my skills to work creating graphics for social media platforms and updating webpages using a content management system. The latter was a process I was unfamiliar with, yet quickly learned with the help and mentoring of Gayane Minasyan, AASA online technologies director. However, the scope of what I learned during my first week surpassed my expectations.

Like most incoming interns, I did my research on the organization prior to my first day. I familiarized myself with the website, read the mission statement, and skimmed over recent headlines and news. I understood that AASA supports superintendents and school leaders across the nation and dedicates itself to providing the highest quality public education for all students. Yet I’ll admit, I didn’t grasp the significance of AASA until I immersed myself in webinars, toolkits and recent reports. 

Developing Effective Principals webinar (blog-with text)2  

superintendent salary report screenshot 2  

 

vaccine toolkit graphic (blog-with caption)2  

I often thought of superintendents as the highest position in education. Growing up in the K-12 public education system, superintendents had all the answers. I recognize now that education spans far beyond the classrooms and hallways of schools. Learning is a lifelong process, not only for superintendents, but for working professionals as well. We all have room to grow, areas to develop, opportunities to change and chances to become leaders. As a young professional entering the working world, I know I have areas to improve and room to develop, and I value being a part of an organization that fosters the concept of lifelong learning. 

While I appreciate learning design principles and new technological systems during my first week, I’m most grateful for the passionate professionals at AASA who proudly taught me the importance of their organization. For every social media post I make or website I edit, I’ll understand the magnitude of the messages, the impact of the work and the overall goals of AASA.

 

 

   

Building Clarity on Reinvention

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Building Clarity on Reinvention

By: Rodney Watson, Lupita Hinojosa, Matt Pariseau (Spring Independent School District, Texas) &
Michael Duncan, Jennifer Allison (Pike County School District, Ga.)

BuildingClarity1
Spring ISD parent advisory committee supper with the superintendent


As superintendents and district leaders, we know our school systems require reinvention to equitably meet the needs of each learner in a rapidly changing world. We knew this before the multiple crises of the past year and half, and we felt it even more strongly during 2020-21. So, when AASA and Transcend launched the first Roads to Reinvention Community of Practice in the fall of 2020, we immediately signed on.

We joined a national community of six districts and a regional service agency, all of whom wanted to think together about how to reinvent our systems in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change.

We began by exploring how student experiences needed to be designed differently to leap from a one-size-fits-all, inequitable industrial model of learning to an equitable, 21st century design. These 10 Leaps helped us clearly and concisely articulate the before and after we were aiming for, and we were able to readily identify a specific, Leaps-aligned initiative already underway in our districts. For Spring ISD, the initiative was our six elementary and middle school Innovation Zone pilots. At Pike County Schools, the focus was deeper learning work resulting from our Portrait of a Graduate initiative.

As we all know, initiatives don’t always succeed. They need to be nurtured and tended to with care. We spent the bulk of our eight-month journey on the Road to Reinvention exploring as leadership teams—and a community of leadership teams—the conditions that enable innovation to take root and spread: conviction, clarity, coalition, capacity, and culture. We began with a conditions self-assessment, individually considering where our district initiative work was on the statements defined in the assessment. For example, in conviction, where did each of us think our district stood on the statement, “Innovation work is among our system’s top three priorities, which means we all devote significant time, resources, and attention to it”?  And, further, what rationale did each of us have for the ratings we gave?

Transcend translated these assessments into an easy-to-use dashboard and a simple debrief protocol that enabled us to have rich and sometimes contentious conversations around leadership team alignment and misalignment.

BuildingClarity2
The 5 Conditions dashboard showing the aggregate assessments across a district.


BuildingClarity3
The dashboard also shows disaggregated data with anonymous rationales for the ratings, in this case for ‘Capacity.’

Difficult as those conversations were, even more valuable was what we learned when we offered the same self-assessment tool to our stakeholders: everyone from students and caregivers to teachers, teacher leaders, building leaders, and central office staff. We discovered that what we, the district leadership team, thought was a strength was actually an area of growth. Both our districts, Pike County and Spring ISD, found we needed to focus our Road to Reinvention around building Clarity around our respective initiatives.

BuildingClarity4
Pike County community design session

In Spring ISD we knew we had strong system-wide conviction around the need for reinvention, and the survey bore that out. However, it became clear that our various stakeholders did not have clarity about what the redesign work entailed. We decided to create focus groups to hear where our students, families, teachers, teacher leaders, building leaders, and central office staff felt we were and what their hopes for the children were. After listening, we arrived at some guiding ideas and convened site-based school design teams to translate those guiding ideas into new student learning experiences that we can implement and iterate on through improvement cycles. [Spring ISD’s Road to Reinvention]

At Pike County, our lowest conditions assessment results were with Coalition and Capacity. We initially chose Coalition as the condition we wanted to focus on improving. However, as we engaged in debrief conversations at our school sites, we learned that the coalition was fractured and the capacity was limited because, underneath all the work, there was a lack of clarity on the deeper learning strategy and goals. Like Spring ISD, we began a series of community dialogues around our Portrait of a Graduate and deeper learning. We invited our families to join design teams where they engaged in design thinking to support those in our community who didn’t have clarity on our reinvention work. These family design teams built out a resource guide, reimagined curriculum nights, and are designing the role of an achievement concierge who might support families in helping build goal-directed persistence in students. [Pike County Schools’ Road to Reinvention]

On a bi-monthly basis we brought our ‘ahas’ and ‘oh-nos’ to the Roads to Reinvention Community of Practice. AASA and Transcend created a safe, fertile space where we could listen, learn, and problem-solve. We all worked together to learn a new language around the Conditions for Innovation. If, before, we looked at an initiative and analyzed what worked and didn’t work, now we had a way of going one level deeper, into the soil. We knew there was good soil and bad soil for innovations to flourish, but now we had specific names for the ameliorants and methods that could improve the soil. By naming things together (and learning together), we could share calibrated insights and advice, both within our systems and across the different districts. This enrichment enabled our reinvention initiatives to take deeper root. 

Spring ISD:  Rodney Watson, superintendent (NFSA Superintendent of the Year, 2021); Lupita Hinojosa, chief officer of innovation and equity; Matt Pariseau, assistant superintendent for curriculum and professional development

Pike County Schools:  Michael Duncan, superintendent (Georgia Superintendent of the Year, 2021); Jennifer Allison, director of teaching and learning

Bold Change Requires Solidarity Between Schools and Community Partners

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Bold Change Requires Solidarity Between Schools and Community Partners

Parents know what they want for their children. Empowered by the demands of the pandemic, parents are owning their power to making choices about what opportunities their children engage in. Parents overwhelmingly support the American Rescue Plan Act dollars coming to schools, but they want bold change. They don’t just want more traditional school and more rote instruction. Case in point: A recently released Understanding America Study found that only 25 percent of families were enrolling their children in summer school in districts that offered it. Local reports, however, suggest that parents are responding to hybrid approaches that involve community-based programs. 

Hike2On a longer journey to become a city of learning, Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) and The Opportunity Project collaboratively launched Ready! Set! Summer! Throughout the summer nearly 12,000 young people (more than 33 percent of TPS students) have engaged in summer programs hosted in schools, community centers, museums, parks and stem facilities. Grounded in learning from partnership focused on social emotional learning as well as from the teacher walkouts in 2019 and COVID closures in 2020, these programs lead with relationships, interests, and fun while building in math, science, and other opportunities for academic acceleration – regardless of where they are offered and whether the school or community organizations are serving as the primary lead.

Tulsa is not alone. Boston and Cleveland are similarly seeing preferences for more asset-based programs that build on students’ interests and strengths while also addressing their academic, social and emotional needs. Parents’ greater willingness to engage in “reconnect and recovery” efforts when community partners take lead likely reflects pre-pandemic relationships that were reinforced over the last year when these programs adapted rather than closing, shifting to blended modalities and offering different in person options (such as pop-up camps or learning hubs). 

Those calling for the radical transformation of schools insist that change starts with the adoption of a more balanced approach to learning that is consistent with recent science findings about how learning happens. This balanced approach is widely used in these flexible learning settings. But valuable lessons and examples are frequently discounted (even when funded via school districts) because these organizations are different from schools. They do not lead with academics, rely on certified teachers, use tests and grades, or require attendance. Hence, these settings are seen as nice but not necessary.

“Learning happens everywhere” is a great slogan. But the lion’s share of public and philanthropic education funding flows into and through school systems with precious little coming out the other side to strengthen this more flexible learning and development system. Without concerted efforts to translate platitudes into real ecosystem planning, it remains likely that little of the unprecedented amounts of funding now flowing to schools will be invested in coordination and capacity-building infrastructures that can accelerate progress towards equitable, community-based, learner-centered ecosystems. Expanded access to summer and afterschool programs will likely happen but may not last.

Based on what we have collectively experienced and heard from other communities across the country, we have one suggestion for school and school district leaders that might seem relatively simplistic but will take a great deal of effort to pull off. To effectively build partnerships, leaders must acknowledge and begin to eliminate the power differential between schools and community programs.

Two quotes, shared by leaders in Tulsa during Episode 3 of the Wallace PSELI Podcast, illustrate the negative impact this power dynamic can create:

I didn't realize there's actually been a lot of harm, non-intentional harm, working with our outside partners, where we've just made decisions and excluded them and not even considered them in many of our decision-making processes.
One of the things we did really have to work on is… treating our youth care workers as professionals. I didn't realize that there was this thing around a certified classroom teacher versus a professional youth care worker. It's been a big learning experience for me in this project, but I think it's well worth it in recognizing that both sets of individuals have such great things to bring to students and families that we need to learn from both of them.

As we think about how we more effectively build partnerships between schools and community programs, we find ourselves reflecting on the impact the concept of allyship has had in diversity, equity and inclusion work. 

Allyship is an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which an individual of privilege seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group of people.

Drums

Allyship for BIPOC, Latinx, LGBTQ+ students requires school and district leaders to maintain active awareness of the actions they must take to understand and disrupt inequities (racial, gender identity, sexual orientation). One step is to recognize the extent to which families rely on community organizations to complement and sometimes compensate for lessons learned or not learned in school. School systems need to recognize their interdependence with other youth serving organizations as we map out the full range of supports and opportunities the young people in our communities need and deserve. The benefits will not only be for young people, but the very systems engaged in collaboration through infusion of ideas, services, and supports become part of the collective approach to learning and development.

The call for strong, sustainable partnerships between schools and their communities is linked to a broader push for a shift from siloed systems thinking (even with commitments to better coordination) to ecosystems thinking (in which each system acknowledges its interdependence with the other as well as the independent value other systems contribute to young people’s success). To implement transformational change together we need to:

  • Talk about young people not just as students, but more broadly as learners. 
  • Respect and resource all of the professionals and paraprofessionals in the learning ecosystem (including those in the school building who staff the libraries, hallways, cafeterias, buses, counseling and nurses’ offices, wrap around supports and extracurricular and sports activities). Think of community partners as part of a more flexible delivery system that likely has been, and can be, critical partners during the school day as well as in the afterschool and summer hours. 
  • Acknowledge that every system has formal (curriculum-based instruction), flexible (interest/talent driven learning) and free choice (independent exploration, recess) settings where adults and young people–when empowered–can make learning happen. 
  • Create a shared commitment to acknowledge that all learning is social and emotional. It is the intentionality of experiences we co-create with learners that matter.

This past year has underscored the fact that trying to do this alone discounts the more fragile, but no less important relationships, networks, and coordinating infrastructures in place in the broader community. A year and a half of schools and families leaning on community-based organizations has made it clear that schools cannot create equitable learning opportunities alone. 

This is the time for all of us to be bold. Disruption created opportunity. Let’s fully leverage these opportunities to build forward together

Authors:

Shannon
Paula Shannon
deputy superintendent
Tulsa Public Schools

Shaw
Caroline Shaw
executive director
The Opportunity Project

Pittman
Karen Pittman
co-founder and senior fellow
The Forum for Youth Investment

Intern View: Legislative Advocacy Conference

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Intern View: Legislative Advocacy Conference

capitolThis past week I had the opportunity to join AASA in person for its Legislative Advocacy conference. I’ve come to understand that the superintendency can be a solitary position. Conferences are a great opportunity to gather around a community that's driven toward the same goal, sharing the challenges of districts and learning from the successes of others.     

The content of the sessions at the conference itself were specific and intentional, as opposed to general statements and a pat on the back. The sessions, specifically the update from AASA’s advocacy team, dove into the nitty gritty of what superintendents need to know when they face Capitol Hill. The new advocacy app, which debuted at the conference, is sure to be a great resource to continue work on AASA’s 2021 Legislative Agenda.

It was also great to hear from the deputy secretary of education. In the past year, the politicization of education has increased even more. It was reassuring to hear that Cindy Marten is focused on the student. As a former teacher, she is determined to keep these things in sight.

  Adv ConfOn Tuesday, I was able to speak with president-elect Shari Camhi, superintendent in Baldwin, N.Y. She was passionate about the need to reinvent education. She emphasized that education has to be built around the students, not the adults. She also commented on the necessity to move the idea of what lessons we’ve learned from COVID (what to keep, what to lose) past simple rhetoric and into actions. PBS did a special on her district and we discussed her district's robust website. It seems AASA’s future is in good hands. 

I used to be interested in advocacy, social justice and public education. I believe public education is the key to success. It's a way out of poverty, it was my parents’ key to class mobility and it is vital to our democracy. Everyone has a part they can play in pushing schools forward, not just educators. From this conference, I've learned that I can take the skills I have in digital media and communications and apply them to worthy causes. Every organization needs a variety of parts and skillsets to work as one body moving forward. In my last blog post I noted how everyone works together, taking on various roles, because they believe in the work. Throughout the Legislative Advocacy Conference, I saw that attitude growing within me as well.  

When I speak to people about working in education, they immediately jump to conclusions about classrooms being too political, about the pawn education has become in political games and a weapon of whatever rhetoric they feel most threatened by. This is not what I saw. These sessions revolved around crumbling school buildings, child nutrition, safe and speedy returns from COVID, plans for natural disasters, equitable internet access for students, etc. These are not dubious figures scheming on the best way to indoctrinate children. They are vulnerable servants with hearts that are burdened with care for the wellbeing and success of America's children.  

PaulIn his installation Paul Imhoff, superintendent of Upper Arlington (Ohio) School District, spoke on the importance of love. I saw that love across the conference. Love for each other, as members caught up on their families and hugged one another. Love for their districts as they compared and contrasted what works for what district and grilled panelists on behalf of their students. Above all, there was love for students and public education. 

Watch the videos here:

 2021 Legislative Advocacy Conference - Kristi Wilson
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MchADwI7jWA

2021 Legislative Advocacy Conference - AASA President Paul Imhoff
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56eMXvXsRig

2021 Legislative Advocacy Conference - AASA President-elect Shari Camhi
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaCwK47ho40

2021 Legislative Advocacy Conference - Shane Hotchkiss
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y60S1wOHt9g

Intern View: AASA's Advocacy Mindset

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Intern View: AASA's Advocacy Mindset

Intern View: AASA's Advocacy Mindset

Over the course of my internship, I have alternated between working exclusively with School Administrator and digital content. Recently I had the opportunity to become more acquainted with the bigger picture of AASA, as I was able to have one-on-one conversations with several AASA staff members and attend a full staff meeting. 


There were a few traits that stuck out in all of those conversations. First off, in describing their work, it became apparent that each individual was not only capable but willing to fulfill a variety of different roles, like James Minichello, whose duties include responsibilities like writing press releases, but also took it upon himself to sharpen his photography skills in order to increase coverage. 


Secondly, many members of the staff do not have a background in education. This came as a shock to me. Not only did it subvert my expectation, but with the wealth of knowledge everyone exhibits it’s hard to believe.


 Third, advocacy is the blood that pumps through every action. It’s one thing to witness the focus on advocacy when writing social media posts, editing the website, or evaluating manuscripts for School Administrator. Those things are the face we show others. It’s the appearance we choose to present. 


It’s another thing to see that mindset driving the conversation in staff meetings or even the day-to-day duties of each individual. This intentionality is not just the appearance of AASA but it is clearly the substance as well.


In the past weeks I was also given the task to look through archived School Administrator articles to add to the publications portion of our equity resources. This task once again showed me the depth of AASA’s commitment. While the past year has forced many organizations to participate in difficult conversations on equity for the first time, it is clear that AASA has been engaged in searching for equitable solutions and gameplans for years, and they are only continuing to move forward.


These experiences have made me consider my future in a different light. From a distance the harmony of this team is obvious, but at a closer look the muscle holding this organism together is a genuine care for the members of AASA and a hope for the future of public education. In my future career I hope to be a part of an organization I truly believe in. Knowing what the job counts for makes the work even more worthwhile and the direction of every task crystal clear. 


 aasabuildingimage

Intern View: First Impressions at AASA

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Intern View: First Impressions at AASA

Intern View: First Impressions at AASA

I chose to intern with AASA, The School Superintendents Association because I wanted an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a possible career path. I was hoping for a chance to develop real skills this summer instead of sleeping the days away. My parents have both been in education for more than 25 years. The weight of administration and even classroom teaching is clearly a heavy load, but a load very much worth carrying. My life has been filled with people whose professional lives revolved around public school on many levels of the education spectrum. While I have heard much about their challenges, the roles of the superintendency have always been blurred to me.

I definitely underestimated the position prior to this internship. Superintendents work with everything from assessment to building management with little acknowledgement or respect. They walk a fine line of responding to the needs of their student bodies without ruffling political feathers. From reading the 2020 Decennial Study, I was surprised to see that approximately 33% of superintendents identified as Republican, 32% as independent and 31% as Democrat. This is a much more varied response than I expected. The 2020 Decennial Study showed me that as the diversity of school districts themselves increases, so does the diversity of those who hold the position of superintendency. Since 2010, there has been an increase in female superintendents, people of color and even a change in the age of superintendents as more individuals are becoming superintendents at a younger age. Respondents who were superintendents by the time they were 45 made up a new majority of 59% in 2020,compared to the 49.5% of participants in the 2010 survey who were superintendent by that age.

Something that strikes me about AASA is its sober awareness of the diversity that lies within the superintendency. An effort is always wholeheartedly made to avoid endorsing any theory or making any choices that would alienate their dedicated members. There is a goal of being helpful to all who hold the role. AASA is constantly pulling from a history of findings and data to make informed choices that offer actionable solutions to modern problems. AASA values every voice and attacks every issue from multiple points of view. 

This is something I've enjoyed about the publication, School Administrator, and participating in interactive resources like webinars. AASA truly creates a community for superintendents to bring their diverse array of experiences from their unique districts together, where they can work to encourage one another toward better school practices that serve their constituents' needs. The superintendency is a lonely job, but AASA provides a necessary community of support and resources.

Apart from an abundance of information and a newfound sympathy for superintendents, I have grown in respect for the amount of detail that goes into the social media aspect of AASA. It’s been fascinating to see how content is altered to cater to the audience of each social media platform and even email so every member can stay up to date with the organization that serves them.

I have also already learned a tremendous amount of transferable skills. I'm learning how to work with content management systems, send out vital information to members and I’m starting to become familiar with what my future career may look like. So far I’ve gotten to contribute in so many ways, each way requiring me to practice a new skill. I’m already becoming much more comfortable doing work in the digital world. 

AASA has been a warm and welcoming community, and I can't wait to keep learning from everyone. 

Thank you for having me.

 bp0615

2021 summer intern with AASA and a sophomore at Flagler College in St, Augustine, Fla.