AASA Digital Consortium Visits Ephrata Area (PA) Schools

(Lead To Learn, Digital Consortium) Permanent link

AASA Digital Consortium Visits Ephrata Area (PA) Schools

Ready! Better yet, be Life Ready like students in the Ephrata Area (Pa.) School District. Educational leaders from across the country recently gathered there to participate in the AASA Digital Consortium’s first meeting of the year. 

The future of public education was on display as Superintendent Brian Troop showcased the transformational work taking place in his district. During our time together, we focused on personalization, flexible experiences for students, Maker Learning, a Life Ready Graduate and community partnerships.

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Take a moment to visit the Ephrata Area School District website and checkout the Life Ready Graduate community and district model. The integration of the technology is a model we need to highlight across this country. However, the reflection I want to share in this blog entry is the leadership growth I gained by participating in the AASA Digital Consortium and learning from Dr. Troop.

We can all agree we are passionate about improving how we operate as leaders for the sake of our students. This experience was especially rewarding for me because Kee Edwards, principal at Miller Ridge Elementary in Middletown City School District, attended the conference with me. We are two instructional leaders hungry for knowledge and growth around the goals set in our district.

The AASA Digital Consortium provided me the opportunity to offer authentic professional learning for a leader in my district. During building visits, Mr. Edwards and I discussed how we can better engage our community, empower students in their learning, inspire educators in our district to embrace transformation efforts, and find approaches to integrate technology effectively.

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We could have accomplished this by sitting in his office easily, but imagine the depth of our conversations as we observed Dr. Troop and his Ephrata leadership team highlighting the revolutionary work taking place in their schools. The value add in this example is the access to other digital thought leaders from across the country. For example, during the visit to the Franklin Institute, Mr. Edwards engaged in deep dialogue around Understanding Brain Theory and Learning with Nick Polyak and Brian Troop. (Nick Polyak, superintendent of Leyden High School District 212 in Illinois, serves as chair of the Digital Consortium.)

What do you do when a leader looks at you and says, “I want to grow more in these areas.” Would you stand by him or her? If we truly value supporting the growth of our leaders, I encourage my peers to stand, quite literally, side by side those we are challenging to grow. This cannot be done by sending someone to a conference. I’m talking about attending the professional learning opportunity with your growing leader and having deep dialogue and challenging thoughts about their approach to being an elite leader.

The AASA Digital Consortium encourages participants to bring members from our districts to attend consortium meetings. How could you take advantage of that in your district? Think about it.

In Ephrata Area School District, the community values and endorses the Life Ready areas set as priorities for all students. Mr. Edwards and I left inspired in our leadership growth together. I’m staying committed to my belief to provide the leaders in my district with personalized professional learning as best I can.

Given we were in Philadelphia, now would be a perfect time to reference a line from Robert Tepper’s song “No Easy Way Out” where he writes “some things are worth fighting for.” Let’s make growing leaders in education worth fighting for in our districts.

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On behalf of Middletown City School District, I want to thank AASA for providing ongoing opportunities for leaders across the country to come together to grow, ultimately benefiting all students. A special thank you to the students, community, and staff of Ephrata Area School District for showcasing the wonderful possibilities in public education. As a member of the AASA Digital Consortium, I was honored to have the opportunity to celebrate what you are doing for students. Go Mounts!

 

Marlon Styles, Jr. is the superintendent of Middletown City (Ohio) School District.

Lead with Passion,Energy, Focus and Partnership

(Lead To Learn, Digital Consortium) Permanent link

by Michael Lubelfeld, superintendent, Deerfield Public Schools, Ill., and Nick Polyak, superintendent, Leyden High School District 212, Ill.

polyak digital consortium fall 17The purpose of the AASA Digital Consortium is to support school district administrators as they scale successful models in support of engaging, effective learning experiences using digital media in order to be the leading national voice for digital innovation in our nation’s public schools.

We have often written about the power and value of professional associations. We are grateful to the coaching, guidance, mentorship, feedback and opportunities that these associations afford leaders in the practice of education.

As co-directors of the AASA Digital Consortium we have the honor of gathering with 40-50 superintendents and educational leaders from around the nation in support of leading digital innovation in our nation’s schools. Since 2014, the consortium has visited exemplar school districts from coast to coast (Maryland, California, North Carolina, Illinois and Washington, and our next visit in April 2018 will be to Missouri).

Typically, we engage with a team of superintendents and school leaders for two days of intense leading, learning, fellowship and calls to action. Key to the influence and success of the Digital Consortium are friends like Horace Mann, Discovery Education, Google, Google Chicago, Education Reimagined, McGraw Hill, Fuel Education, Rethink Education and other leaders in the edtech space.

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We work through exercises and planning under the powerful frameworks for leadership and change like the one found in Education Reimagined. We have worked with thought leaders from around North America as we support one another on the journey toward change management and maximized impact of digital transformation.

During our visits, tweets are shared under the #AASA_DigitalConsortium. Our challenge and charge as a group of leaders is to continue to lead with passion, energy, focus and partnership. As critical friends, we affirm that which is good and best, and we constructively critique that which can be made better.

AASA will feature blog posts from the various leadership consortia as part of its ongoing outreach and support of leadership and education. In addition, through partnerships with the Center for Digital Education and Discovery Education, for example, a number of case studies and white papers have been written by or about Digital Consortium leaders.

Mike Lubelfeld is the superintendent of Deerfield Public Schools in Deerfield, Ill. Nick Polyak is the superintendent of Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Ill. Lubelfeld and Polyak serve as co-chairs of AASA’s Digital Consortium and co-moderate  #Suptchat, a monthly, hour-long conversation via Twitter that engages superintendents and other school system leaders worldwide about the most critical issues in education. The program occurs on the first Wednesday of every month, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET). 

Critical Friends Come Together in Chicago

(Lead To Learn, Equality, Aspiring Superintendents, Digital Consortium) Permanent link

Critical Friends Come Together in Chicago

By Yelena Minasyan

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The AASA Digital Consortium, held July 27-29 in Chicago, brought together dozens of superintendents, assistant superintendents, and school technology directors from across the country to share ideas about using digital media to reimagine ways of teaching and learning to enhance student outcomes.

Nick Polyak, superintendent of Leyden High School District 212, and Michael Lubelfeld, superintendent of Deerfield Public Schools District 109, welcomed all educators as their respective districts served as co-hosts of the consortium.

The group visited West Leyden High School on the first day of the meeting to learn about the district’s Tech Support Internship (TSI). Students who enroll in TSI acquire hands-on technology experience, and provide tech support to teachers and students. On the same day, attendees visited the metal lab, which prepares future engineers by building their expertise through machinery.

The second day of the consortium had an early start—the first stop was West Leyden High School where Jaime Casap, education evangelist at Google, served as keynote speaker. Throughout the inspirational speech, he discussed how the future is today. Lubelfeld tweeted, “The future is TODAY education for today. The present is a gift.” Casap also explained how “computer science is in everything we do. STEM jobs are going to increase rapidly within the next couple years and positions are going to be needed to fill them.” He raised the question “How do we prepare kids for their future?”

Everyone was excited to visit Google’s Chicago office later that day. The interior design of the building was very impressive- it was filled with vibrant furniture with a relaxed atmosphere. Many superintendents indicated they would like to see this kind of atmosphere in their schools. Students from Leyden High Schools joined the meeting and were interviewed by group members. The students' responses were consistent across the room; it was apparent they want to have a voice in the way they learn. During the workshop, superintendents were able to prepare for their “ignite sessions” which occurred on the final day of the meeting

On Day No. 3, administrators attended Deerfield School District 109 and observed STEAM labs. Solar panels on the outside of the buildings made the school more energy efficient. Alabama Superintendent Trey Holladay shared images of the lab on twitter, noting "moveable walls, measuring floors, [and] interactive cameras.” The student's voice is critical when making decisions how to reimagine the learning spaces.

During the meeting, superintendents learned new ways about how they can implement these ideas into their school districts. They will share the results in October at the next Digital Consortium, which will take place in San Francisco.

 

 

To keep up with the Digital Consortium, access: 

https://storify.com/AASAHQ/aasa-digital-consortium-in-chicago-july-2016#publicize

 

Yelena Minasyan, AASA Intern, Student at George Mason University, Global Community Health