Leaders Going 'Above and Beyond': A Superintendent's Perspective

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Leaders Going 'Above and Beyond': A Superintendent's Perspective

by Todd Dugan, superintendent, Bunker Hill CUSD #8, Ill., and a member of the AASA National Superintendent  Certification Program® – Midwest Cohort Class of 2020

On a sweltering July weekend in Chicago, Illinois, a group of dedicated public school superintendents from across the Midwest region (and beyond) of the United States gathered for four days of intense professional development. With an Excessive Heat Warning in effect, leaders from school districts in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio and other midwestern states devoted their time and energy to learning from AASA facilitators from across the nation, as well as from each other regarding best practices in the continuously evolving and increasingly complex job of serving as public school superintendents.

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The AASA National Superintendent Certification Program® is a 2-year cohort geared toward superintendents within their first 7 years in the field offering a unique and intensive period of professional growth in a cohort setting. As this cohort met again in the heat of Illinois summer, several important topics were covered over the long weekend. From fundamental topics such as nurturing positive board relations to ancillary (yet equally critical) topics including engagement of families and communities, participants continued their journey of shared learning that began in February in Los Angeles. 

In addition to the hours spent learning while most people enjoyed their summer weekends either on vacation or in the company of their families (one superintendent actually flew directly from Florida, departing his family vacation early, to Chicago to attend the summer meeting), these dedicated cohort participants also read articles and viewed artifacts, via an online digital learning platform, as well as monthly progress calls via Zoom or Skype, typically in the evening. All of these activities are leading up to a culminating capstone project, to be presented at a graduation in Chicago in the summer of 2020.

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What makes this meeting of a cohort of educational leaders newsworthy? At a time when public schools are under more scrutiny than before, as outcomes and mandates continue to accrue as financial resources decline or remain steady, it speaks magnitudes to see a group of superintendents so dedicated to the improvement of leading America's public school districts. As a profession, bringing to light this type of unsung commitment to the public's attention will only help all districts as we move forward and continue to improve public education, showing that there is no better system of education than public education. 

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