President's Corner

The President’s Wish List

by Don Kussmaul
While December is a month of family, reverence and celebration, this year it also is a time when my thoughts turn to the AASA National Conference on Education™. In 2005 our national conference will be held for the first time in San Antonio. It is a city filled with history, pride and diversity.

On Feb. 17, the city will open its arms to welcome us for a festive celebration of our profession. You will find the hotel accommodations superb and the restaurants filled with great food and atmosphere. The Riverwalk is a wonderful place for that early morning run or a late evening stroll before calling it a night.

Often a change in the normal routine of cities causes a drop in attendance, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for us! So far, the attendance push has been strong and I am hoping that number will grow bigger between now and February. AASA staff members have worked hard to incorporate your recommendations and I know you will enjoy this new location and program.

This is your conference, your chance to make the most of all that the meeting has to offer. It’s an opportunity for all AASA members to come together and learn from a great lineup of speakersexperts and practitioners alikeas well as from each other in those informal moments when we are able to find out how education is faring in other parts of our great land.

As a conference attendee, I have been inspired by the general session speakers, educated by the distinguished lecturers and amazed by what schools across the United States have accomplished. I have enjoyed spending time in the Exhibit Hall where every new product or service under the sun is showcased. Many times, I have thrown out a problem I was having and someone has been able to point me to a solution or to a colleague with a possible answer.

No better place exists than the National Conference on Education to strike up a conversation with school system leaders about issues that are facing our schools, our districts and our education system nationally. Superintendents from large and small districts, as well as rural, urban and suburban, will be there for one purposeto renew their commitment to education by taking advantage of the exemplary professional development opportunities their association and its members have to offer.

Our main speakers are a dynamite group:

  • Lt. Col. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, born and raised in a barrio in Laredo, Texas, who spent 20 years in the Army. She received numerous decorations including the Legion of Merit, National Defense Service medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service medal and Meritorious Service medal (four times). She will share her knowledge and insights about education.

  • Peter Senge, senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chair of the Society for Organizational Learning, who will address the complexity of school system leadership.

  • Dawna Markova, president of Professional Thinking, who will ask us to consider these questions: “If Not Now, When? If Not You, Then Who?” She will share her thoughts about leading systemic change from the inside out.

  • Film director, producer and community activist Edward James Olmos, who will deliver a message about overcoming even the most daunting obstacles through self-discipline and determination.

    And I haven’t even touched on the vast number of featured presentations, distinguished lectures and program sessions. All provide the best in professional development geared to your needs.

If you haven’t made your reservation for the conference, please consider this your personal invitation to the most valuable professional development event of the year. Join me and more than 3,000 of your colleagues in San Antonio. This is our time to “Stand Up For Public Education The Heart of Our Democracy.™

 Donald Kussmaul is president of AASA.