President's Corner

Who Are We?

by Eugene G. White

Awareness and understanding come with knowing who you are as a person. If you don't know who you are, you're hindered in many ways.

This is true with organizations also. Recently, an employee of a private-sector company inquired about our organization. The person had never heard of the American Association of School Administrators and wanted to know about the association and what it did, what it stood for. Could you answer such a question about AASA?

Joe Cirasuolo, AASA's chief operating officer, did an outstanding job of answering the question. After reading his answer, I thought it would be valuable to share some of it with readers:

"The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) is the national organization for superintendents of schools, members of superintendents' cabinets, aspiring superintendent candidates, college and university teachers of school leadership and administrative supervision and retired superintendents.

"We have been in existence since 1865 and have approximately 12,000 members. Our national office is located just outside of Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va. Our activities include extensive efforts to influence national legislation and policy, to lead and shape the dialogue regarding education in the United States, to enhance the competence and professionalism of superintendents and members of superintendents' cabinets and to be the "go-to" organization for school system leaders.

"Currently our efforts are organized and focus around the banner campaign, Stand Up for Public Education. This campaign commits the organization not to be satisfied until:

• Every child in this country comes to school ready to learn.

• Every school in this country is ready to help every child reach high standards of learning.

• Every child in this country leaves the schooling experience prepared to be a productive citizen in a democracy.

"The AASA organization comes together once each year to conduct the National Conference on Education. The first meeting took place in Washington, D.C., three months after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and subsequent meetings have taken place in major cities throughout the United States. This year we met in New Orleans, La."

This is a brief overview and Joe is to be commended for bringing the information together in such an effective manner. However, beyond these facts lies the very heart of AASA. This heart is the outstanding staff of professionals and assistants in the Arlington, Va., office.

The group is led by an outstanding professional leader, Executive Director Paul Houston. Paul is a courageous diplomat and ambassador for the organization.

We also are blessed to have Joe Cirasuolo as our chief operating officer and leader of the day-to-day operational issues.

Political advocacy and public policy are demonstrated strengths of AASA, and that effort is spearheaded by Associate Executive Director Bruce Hunter and Mary Kusler, the assistant director of government relations. We could spend a whole issue of The School Administrator on the work of these two and their staff, for they work tirelessly to ensure the voice of the school administrator is heard not only on Capitol Hill but across the nation.

Associate Executive Directors Claudia Mansfield Sutton, Sharon Adams-Taylor and C.J. Reid provide invaluable service in leadership development, program and resource development and member and affiliate services. Add people like Sherri Montgomery, Evelyn Gilliam, Dasha Kimelman, Chris Daw, Elizabeth Huh, Kathy DeFloria, Terri Schwartzbeck, Kathi Levin and the rest of the hard-working, dedicated AASA staff to the mix and the outcome is more than special.

The last person in the mix is each member working to make the American Dream come to life for our children.