President's Corner

National Conference Attendance is the Mark of a Professional

by Donald R. Thompson

Orlando! 1997! The AASA National Conference on Education, Feb. 14-17! Those are the answers.

The question is, "Where and when is the most outstanding professional development opportunity of the year?"

Thousands of education leaders from across North America and other parts of the world will be in Orlando to develop networks, find solutions to problems, pick up new ideas, look at the latest products and services for schools, and ultimately gain knowledge and skills that will lead to even better student achievement.

Orlando in 1997 will mark the American Association of School Administrators 129th annual conference, and being there is truly the mark of a professional.

Here is just a hint of what’s in store for you:

* General Session speakers include MIT professor of management and economics Lester Thurow; Stanford professor, playwright, and author Anna Deavere Smith; former Vice President Dan Quayle, and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

* You’ll also hear from author and lecturer Samuel Betances on how to face change and diversity; Karen Johnson Pittman on pushing the boundaries of education; noted education leader Carolyn Warner on public schools in the new millennium; Howard University professor A. Wade Boykin on what enables and inhibits success; director of school, family, and partnership programs at Johns Hopkins University Joyce Epstein on partnerships that serve students; and co-director of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Research on the Education of Students At Risk Robert Slavin.

* Dozens of outstanding programs are clustered under themes, such as: developing leadership, preparing schools and school systems for the 21st century, improving the condition of children and youth, and involving parents and community.

* A series of sessions that put kids in the spotlight, including: "Television and the Movies … Jack Valenti Talks with Kids;" "It’s Time to Rebuild the Village," and "Building Civility in a Violent Society."

* One of the largest and most outstanding exhibition of school products and services in the world and a compelling exhibit of innovative school architecture.

* A 10th anniversary celebration for the National Superintendent of the Year program during the first general session and special recognition for several distinguished school leaders during a special Awards Program just before the annual President’s Reception the evening of Thursday, February 13.

* A "Conference within a Conference" is planned for professors of educational administration.

* The annual Partners Program, designed for those who share the rigors of public life with their administrator partners, will feature a host of interesting programs.

* A series of Pre-Conference Workshops scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13.

* And … much much more.

The theme for my year as AASA president is "Engage Parents in Educating." You’ll find ideas galore during the National Conference on how to get parents to play an even more constructive role as members of the education team.

These are times of change in our schools and school systems. As we stand on the threshold of the 21st century, expectations for our schools are skyrocketing. We need to arm ourselves with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will help us stay up to the task of leading the most vital institutions in our free and democratic society, our schools. Our students are depending on us. So are parents, our communities, and our nation.

Charlotte and I look forward to greeting you personally during the President’s Reception, Thursday evening, Feb. 13.

We’ll see you in Orlando!

Donald Thompson is president of AASA.