Clearing the Way for Personalized Learning in U.S. Schools

pl-fueledNearly a year ago, AASA’s Superintendents Personalized Learning Cohort met in Salt Lake City where Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of The School Superintendents Association told the audience, “we strongly believe that personalized learning has to be the way our children are educated.” 

Fast forward to March 30, 2017. The cohort, comprised of school district leaders throughout the country, gathered in Herndon, Va., for continued discussion, fact-finding and the sharing of best practices.

“We’re here to learn about, think about and understand this work not only for our school district but for our kids,” said Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director. “It’s important for our colleagues,” he said, “for you as school district leaders to shape the conversation rather than just react to it.”

“I am encouraged by the changes taking place around the country and the number of districts … making significant attempts to change the system of education as we know it,” said Domenech in his opening remarks at last week’s meeting. We need to “move away from educating one group at a time to educating the single child at a time.”

The meeting host, Fuel Education®, partners with school districts to fuel personalized learning and transform the education experience inside and outside the classroom. The company provides innovative solutions for pre-K through 12th grade that empower districts to implement successful online and blended learning programs.  


“It’s a privilege and an honor to have so many great educators with us,” said Stuart J. Udell, chief executive officer of K-12 Inc., the parent company of Fuel Education. “We serve more students through Fuel Education in partnership with public school systems than any work we do.”

The next two days were filled with riveting discussions on spreading the personalized learning movement. “Ignite Sessions” were provided by Superintendents Benny Lile (Metcalf County Schools, Edmonton, Ky.), Meredith Nadeau (Newmarket School District, Newmarket, N.H.) and Jeff Dillion (Wilder School District, Wilder, Idaho), as well as representatives from Mehlville School District (St. Louis, Mo.) and Dysart Innovation Academy (Dysart, Ariz.).

The following cohort members were recognized for completing the AASA Superintendents Personalized Learning Cohort and Certification program.

  • Jeff Dillon, superintendent, Wilder School District 133, Wilder, Idaho
  • Renee Dove, superintendent-elect, Okmulgee School District, Okmulgee, Okla.
  • Elizabeth Freeman, curriculum director, Fremont School District 79, Mundelein, Il.
  • Christopher Gaines, superintendent, Mehlville School District, R9, St. Louis, Mo.
  • 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, Ohio
  • Kimberly Honnick, assistant to the deputy superintendent, Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District, Aberdeen, N.J.
  • Jennifer Kelsall, superintendent, Ridgewood Community High School District 234, Norridge, Ill. 
  • Benny Lile, superintendent, Metcalf County School District, Edmonton, Ky.
  • Delesicia Martin, superintendent, Hinds County School District, Raymond, Miss.
  • Gail Pletnick, superintendent, Dysart Unified School District 89, Surprise, Ariz.
  • Loyd Rennaker, superintendent, Darby School District 9, Darby, Mont.
  • Douglas Schuch, superintendent, Bedford County Public School District, Bedford, Va.
  • Summer Stephens, superintendent, Weston County School District #7, Upton, Wyo.
  • Beth Stewart, assistant superintendent, North Little Rock School District, North Little Rock, Ark.    
  • Jeffrey Thake, superintendent, Amboy Community Unit School District, #272, Amboy, Ill.
  • Craig Tice, superintendent, Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District, Manlius, N.Y.


“We now have the technology that allows us and even facilitates the possibilities to (expand the personalized learning movement) for each and every child,” said Benny Lile, superintendent, Metcalf County School District, Edmonton, Ky. “It behooves us to take every opportunity we can to bring an increase in learning to [our] students.”

“It’s important for me to belong to the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort because it has given me the opportunity to meet with amazing leaders from all over the nation,” said Delesicia Martin, superintendent, Hinds County School District, Raymond, Miss. “I’m able to share ideas and take what I’ve learned back to my district.”

AASA is looking to expand its base of school districts involved in the cohort as the movement in education heads towards a tipping point.  School system leaders are encouraged to complete the following application, which requires basic information about you and your district. In addition to this application, please include a cover letter, which explains why you would like to become a member. 

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

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