Student's View: Final Blog Post

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Student's View: Final Blog Post

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Final Photo with InternI am tremendously grateful for the time I’ve spent as an intern here at AASA, The School Superintendents Association. It was my first internship ever, so maybe I’m not in the best position to say this, but I found this experience extremely valuable to my academic and budding professional career.

First off, I learned much more than I expected to learn. I think that every student—at some point or another—subscribes to the fear that early internships are nothing but pits of busywork and coffee-making. While I didn’t take those fears face-value, I did expect more grunt work than I got.

Jay Goldman, editor of School Administrator and one of my supervisors, made sure I got experience reading, writing and editing different parts of AASA’s print and online publications, as well as a few other popular education magazines. I’ve had the chance to proofread features, help select covers and visit all the different departments of AASA.

Gayane Minasyan, director of online technologies and my other supervisor, had me writing this blog, handling social media and learning the web content management system. I sat in on webinars, designed toolkits and graphics, wrote mobile app alerts, conducted interviews and more. I never wore just one hat here at AASA, which I suppose is how most everyone at AASA works. It’s a small community of people juggling an abundance of different tasks.

Second, I can’t claim that the internship did an upheaval of my previous life decisions and goals, but my exposure to so many new people in different positions made me consider my options more. I still want to teach, but I’ve realized that I have to start thinking more than just one step ahead.

There’s no guarantee I’ll want to teach forever, and even otherwise, this adventure has taught me the importance of diversifying your interests and trying new things. My time at college isn’t preparing me for a life-long career at 19, it’s teaching me the tools to eventually find one. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I actually never considered the superintendency as a logical end point to my career path as a teacher but guess that’s what internships are for. I have to get out into the world and see what other people are doing out of college to know what’s possible for me.

I’d like to thank everyone I’ve met at AASA for giving up some of their time to share their insight and advice with me. Some big highlights were my discussions with Kayla Jackson and Rebecca Shaw, project director and coordinator of Children’s Initiatives and Program Development, and Vera Turner, project manager of Leadership Services. That’s not to mention the people who guided me through tasks like Liz Griffin, managing editor of School Administrator, Juli Doshan, senior editorial assistant, and Deanna Atkins, digital content manager. I’ve been to networking events at college before, but it feels so much more organic to have a conversation with someone who works in the same building as you. Many of the college students I know, including myself, are terrified of networking. Networking didn’t feel like a conversation until this internship. I hope that I get more and more comfortable talking to adults as my career continues.

I also hope that my successor and any other intern looking for some reflection space keeps a blog too. I’m truly glad that my supervisor put me up to it. The writing process has given me time to sit down and process why I’m really here interning for the summer rather than working a diner job to pay for textbooks or spending three weeks at the beach. I can confidently say that I made the right choice.

Student’s View: 2018 Legislative Advocacy Conference

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Student’s View: 2018 Legislative Advocacy Conference

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Leaders MatterI have officially attended my first AASA Legislative Advocacy Conference; what an exciting introduction to the world of Capitol Hill!

As an intern at AASA, The School Superintendent’s Association, I had the opportunity to attend the first two days of this year’s Legislative Advocacy Conference. There, AASA finally launched the Leaders Matter Campaign that I had been hearing about for so long ( The campaign is focused on showcasing superintendent leadership and its effects on schools and students. From what I garnered listening to superintendents speak, I can tell there’s a lot of leadership to show off.

On the first day of the conference, I sat in on the panel sessions. The most interesting was the session titled Higher Education Act and Teacher Shortage with Joni Booth, senior client development consultant, Gallup, Tamara Hiller, deputy director of education, Third Way, and Stephen Kostyo, policy advisor, Learning Policy Institute. I remember losing the entire Spanish department junior year at my high school, but I didn’t anticipate seeing almost every superintendent’s hand go up when asked if they were experiencing teacher shortages. As someone so excited to teach after college, it is disheartening to hear that 69 percent of teachers are not engaged in their job and 73 percent of actively disengaged teachers are looking for a new job.

The panelists noted a handful of reasons I expected to see teachers cite for leaving like pay, career advancement and fit. However, I didn’t expect to hear a reason that has already impacted me: licensure.

I live in Virginia but go to college in Pennsylvania, and so because licensure varies by state, I had to redo my fingerprints and background checks for permission to teach in classroom fieldwork. As a low-income student, I wasted precious time and money in this process.

Women in School Leadership CollageOne of the solutions the panelists suggested was a Common Application for Teacher Licensure. Knowing how popular the college Common App is, the idea is intriguing. It’s a concept I’m taking with me for further research and deliberation with my peers. The presentation slides for all the panel sessions can be found at

On the second day of the conference, I spent some time with Vera Turner, project manager, education and communications at AASA. She was working on taping interviews for the Women in School Leadership Video Series. I got to see women superintendents like Debbi Burdick, Cave Creek Unified School District, Gail Pletnick, Dysart Unified School District, and Traci Davis, Washoe County School District, speak about their leadership experiences.

Every woman had a very different story to tell, but similar key takeaways. Each superintendent mentioned communication and relationship building as keys to their success. Some of the women have been superintendents over 18 years and still accredit their ability to succeed to the support systems they were introduced to by their mentors and women role models. They talked about coming into the position ready to face off against the world and instead found strength in the ability to step back and ask for help.

It was amazing to hear about the journeys these women have had to the superintendency; I never realized how many people become superintendents by circumstance rather than by intention. As inspiring as the interviews were, the videos won’t be released for another couple of months, so I don’t want to prematurely spoil anything. I look forward to seeing the results, which will be available at

So as overwhelming as it was to be barraged by a ballroom full of new faces, I’m really honored I got the opportunity to attend the conference. Listening to President Chris Gaines’ address during the installment reminded me just how much time and effort every member puts into AASA, whether as a member of the governing board, executive committee or as president of the organization. According to him, if the officials on Capitol Hill think that school classrooms are just filled with students sitting at desks in rows, it is the fault of the superintendents for not educating their Representatives and inviting them into their schools. It was incredible to listen to him call everyone to action.

This conference was my first glimpse into the types of events organizations like AASA hold. It also opened my eyes to the level of awareness and sense of responsibility educators take on when representing their districts to their government officials.



Student's View: Top Five Reasons to Join AASA, The School Superintendents Association

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Student's View: Top Five Reasons to Join AASA, The School Superintendents Association

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

 Membership Brochure

 In my quest to unravel the mysteries of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, I found an opportunity to interview C.J. Reid, associate executive director, governance, membership & affiliate services.

What I learned about AASA membership from C.J. wasn’t what I expected. There aren’t five amazing reasons I can list that will convince any school administrator to join AASA, there are over 20,000 reasons: one slightly different, personal reason for each individual member. C.J. summarized the situation succinctly, “There is no one silver bullet to membership.”  

As such, I’m going to attempt to come up with my five bronze bullets to consider when debating whether to become an AASA member. 

1. Legal support program

Insurance, as C.J. put it, “is important, but not sexy.” Insurance is one of those things that most people hope never to use, but they sleep better at night knowing it’s there anyway.

I know as well as the next person how necessary that security can be. Life likes to hit us all with a little rain now and then. Through the legal support program, AASA is providing its members up to $20,000 in legal support now, up from $10,000 last year.  

2. Advocacy

As a national association, AASA can advocate for school leaders in ways that state associations logistically can’t. From preserving Medicaid spending in schools to ensuring that low-income students are able to eat breakfast, AASA does its best to represent the interests of school leaders trying to help their students on Capitol Hill and in the White House. That means constantly listening to members online, in person or through the governing board and executive committee. AASA represents its members to the government, not the other way around.

3. Networking

There is only one superintendent in a school district; sometimes, superintendents are spread over multiple districts. AASA’s national network of superintendents gives school leaders the ability to connect and collaborate with people facing similar problems across the country. The support of a community can have astronomical effects on district confidence and success. C.J. is convinced that AASA’s National Conference on Education could be “a room full of chairs and the superintendents would all be content to talk to each other for three hours.”

4. Professional development

AASA hosts an ever-growing collection of programs, cohorts, consortia and academies to help school administrators lead and support their respective schools. Twenty percent of AASA members retire every year, which means that school administrators need to be prepared for a variety of environments, challenges and positions. Whether that means taking advantage of the Urban Superintendent’s Academy or The Rural School and Community Trust, AASA does its best to provide opportunities for its members to grow. 

5. School Administrator (and other resources)

School Administrator, AASA’s award-winning monthly magazine full of insight from school administrators and other professionals in the field, is physically sent to every member every month.

Additionally, members receive two electronic newsletters, all AASA toolkits, access to the resource library and discounts for all AASA books. AASA ensures that all members stay as updated and prepared as possible. If that means having a 24-hour hotline as part of the School Safety & Crisis Planning toolkit, AASA makes it happen. 


Learn more about AASA at and if you like what you see, join at or call 703-875-0748.