School System Leaders to Participate in AASA’s Discover China Program


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Alexandria, Va. – July 5, 2018 – Superintendents and other school district leaders are spending 10 days in China as part of the AASA 2018 Discover China Program.

Each year, AASA selects a group of outstanding superintendents and other school district leaders to participate in the program, sponsored by the Triway International Group. The delegates travel to China to visit K-12 schools, local education agencies and state education departments to observe classes, demonstrate teaching skills and engage in a variety of activities. Participants will arrive in Shanghai on Sunday, July 8, and return to the U.S. on Wednesday, July 18.

“Through the AASA Discover China program, educators from both countries have the opportunity to engage with each other, learn from one another and bring their professional practice to a higher level,” said Chuck Woodruff, AASA chief operating officer. “We are pleased to partner with Triway on a cultural initiative that connects American school district leaders with their global counterparts. The program also provides a platform for positive exchanges between students from one country and educators from another. With the growing popularity of Mandarin programs in the U.S., AASA’s Discover China initiative provides a huge benefit for AASA members.”

The program includes visits to the International Education Association Shanghai, Huimin Elementary School, Nanjing Xiaozhuang University Beiwei Campus, Gaochun Hubin Senior High School, the Beijing Institute of Education (BJIE) and the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE). Program topics will include:

  • Current and potential programs between China and the U.S.;
  • STEM education;
  • AASA’s National Superintendent Certification program;
  • AASA’s National Conference on Education;
  • School leadership; and
  • The education system in the Jiangsu Province.

Eleanor Smalley, president and CEO of JASON Learning will accompany the delegation. AASA and JASON Learning, an award-winning leader in STEM education, created a partnership to enhance teaching and learning excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This partnership, which benefits a diverse range of students, uses the latest technology to bring experts from throughout the world to our classrooms.

Other participants comprising the U.S. delegation include:  

  • David Baugh, superintendent, Centennial School District, Warminster, Pa.
  • Dion Betts, assistant superintendent, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Warletta Brookins, superintendent, Madison Community Unit School District 12, Edwardsville, Ill. 
  • Aspasia Carlson, principal, John Marshall Mid-High School, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert, superintendent, Governor Wentworth Regional School District, Wolfeboro Falls, N.H.
  • Michael Donnelly, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, Palisades School District, Kintnersville, Pa.
  • Olympia Della Flora, associate superintendent of school development, Stamford Public Schools, Stamford, Conn.
  • Tara Gao, cultural exchange specialist, AASA
  • Lupita Ley Hightower, superintendent, Tolleson Elementary School District, Tolleson, Ariz.
  • Kimberly Honnick, principal, Barringer Academy of the Arts & Humanities, Newark Public Schools, Newark, N.J.
  • Jane McMahon, instructional facilitator, Baraboo School District, Baraboo, Wis.
  • Gwendolyn Shannon, superintendent, Southampton County Public Schools, Courtland, Va.  
  • Annette G. Walters, director of special education, Warren Hills Regional School District, Washington, N.J.
  • Percell Whittaker, director of pupil services, Centennial School District, Warminster, Pa.
  • Chuck Woodruff, chief operating officer, AASA.

Earlier this year, the School District of Elmwood in Elmwood, Wis., hosted 20 fourth- and fifth-grade Chinese students from the Jinshan No. 2 Experimental Primary School in Shanghai. During last year’s Discover China trip, Paul Blanford, superintendent of Elmwood Schools, and Zhang Hong, principal of Jinshan, agreed to have their schools become “sister schools.”

For more information about the Discovery China Program, visit the AASA website.

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