Nation’s First-Ever Class of School System Leaders Completes AASA’s Personalized Learning Cohort and Certification Program


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Alexandria, Va. – May 10, 2017 – As an increasing number of school districts nationwide are leveraging personalized learning environments in their classrooms, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, announced today the first-ever class of school system leaders that successfully concluded the organization’s Personalized Learning Cohort and Certification Program.

AASA, the nation’s premier organization for the school system leadership, recently honored the 2017 class of superintendents to complete the ground-breaking program that is spreading the personalized learning movement in our schools and communities.

“We are proud to recognize the visionary leaders who have created a positive culture of personalized learning in their school systems,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “This inaugural class represents a first step in building a national collaborative to raise the level of personalization in education to reach every single child. Not all children learn at the same rate. Personalized learning will enable them to learn at their own pace.”   

The program kickoff took place in Park City, Utah in October 2015 and concluded in Fairfax, Va. in March 2017. The cohort also met in Salt Lake City, Utah and Vista, Calif. These meetings included visits to schools in order for participants to view first-hand personalized learning in action. To complete the program, each participant had a choice of:

  • An “ignite” session and discussion with a presentation archived.
  • Publication of an article or series of blogs related to the work they are doing in their district.
  • Action research related to their district efforts with personalized learning and student learning.

“AASA's Personalized Learning Cohort and Certification Program was an outstanding opportunity to connect with like-minded colleagues working on personalized learning efforts in communities across the country,” said Chris Gaines, superintendent, Mehlville School District, St. Louis, Mo. “The school visits and discussions enabled our districts to accelerate our efforts as we learned and grew together. Through the Personalized Learning Cohort, we can now offer more opportunities to our students.”  

This announcement comes nearly a year after the release of Personalizing 21st Century Education: A Framework for Student Success(Jossey-Bass), a book co-authored by Domenech, Mort Sherman (associate executive director, AASA) and John L. Brown (executive director, curriculum design and instructional services, Alexandria, Va. Public Schools), which begins with a manifesto for change, emphasizing the significance of true personalization for every learner.

For more information about AASA’s Personalized Learning program, visit the AASA website, or contact Mort Sherman at

The following superintendents and other educators are among the first-ever class of AASA’s Personalized Learning Cohort and Certification Program.

  • Jared Cotton, superintendent, Henry County School District, Collinsville, Va.
  • Jeff Dillon, superintendent, Wilder School District 133, Wilder, Idaho
  • Renee Dove, superintendent, Okmulgee School District, Okmulgee, Okla.
  • Cederick Ellis, superintendent, McComb School District, McComb, Miss.
  • Elizabeth Freeman, curriculum director, Fremont School District 79, Mundelein, Ill.
  • Christopher Gaines, superintendent, Mehlville School District, R9, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Jill Gildea, superintendent, Fremont School District 79, Mundelein, Ill.
  • Colby Gull, superintendent, Uinta County School District 6, Lyman, Wyo.
  • Nathan Gorsch, principal, Academy School District 20, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Philip Hickman, superintendent, Columbus Municipal School District, Columbus, Miss.
  • Kimberly Honnick, assistant to the deputy superintendent, Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, Aberdeen, N.J.
  • Benny Lile, superintendent, Metcalfe County School District, Edmonton, Ky.
  • Delesicia Martin, superintendent, Hinds County School District, Raymond, Miss.
  • Gail Pletnick, superintendent, Dysart Unified School District 89, Surprise, Ariz.
  • Douglas Schuch, superintendent, Bedford County Public School District, Bedford, Va.
  • H. Alan Seibert, superintendents, Salem City School District, Salem, Va.
  • Summer Stephens, superintendent, Weston County School District #7, Upton, Wyo.
  • Beth Stewart, deputy superintendent, North Little Rock School District, North Little Rock, Ark.
  • Jeffrey Thake, superintendent, Amboy Community Unit School District, #272, Amboy, Ill.


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit