Aiming High in Hope

Type: Article
Topics: District & School Operations, Equity, School Administrator Magazine

August 01, 2021

President's Corner

It is an honor to begin my tenure as the 2021–22 AASA president. I have never been more proud of our profession than during the past 18 months. Superintendents in districts large and small have risen to the challenge of dealing with a once-in-a-century health crisis, providing steadfast leadership in communities across the country and doing all they can to ensure students have the academic and social-emotional support they need.

The beginning of each new school year is a time to refocus and recommit to the beliefs and values that led us to become school leaders. It is a time to channel the sense of excitement into positive and purposeful actions that challenge and support every student every day.

As we begin this school year and look to life after the pandemic, let us resolve to take the time to plan purposely for the future of our schools.

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Daniel Burnham, a noted architect and urban planner and a chief designer of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. Burnham cautioned us to avoid making “little plans,” which don’t stir passion and likely will not be realized. Instead, he says, “make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.”

Call to Action

As we look toward welcoming students back to our schools, we must learn from the many lessons of the pandemic and use those lessons to make our schools better than they have ever been. With that in mind, I urge you to review “An American Imperative: A New Vision of Public Schools,” a report from the AASA Learning 2025: National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education.

“An American Imperative” provides an excellent framework for ensuring that our schools don’t merely return to normal post-pandemic. It affirms that education leaders, teachers and students play a role in redesigning systems, re-engineering instruction and guiding the learning journey. It represents a true call to action. You can access the report here and learn more about AASA Learning 2025 here.

Many school districts are already using the recommendations and action steps offered in the report to make wholistic, meaningful change. Every student matters. We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us to ensure every student feels welcomed, respected, supported and celebrated in our schools. That is the essence of an equity-focused education.

Rebuild and Re-engage

The new school year also is an opportune time to begin healing our communities. Events of the past year — the pandemic, civil unrest and a divisive political environment — took a toll on our communities, and schools often were thrust into the center of the storm. Now is the time to listen with empathy, act with compassion, rebuild relationships and invite everyone to re-engage with their schools.

This is a monumental undertaking, but I am confident our school superintendents will embrace the challenge and ensure that the best days of our public schools are ahead of us.

Please accept my best wishes for a fantastic school year and know that AASA is ready to support you on this journey. As we move forward, let us make no little plans but aim high in hope and work. I believe in each of you and am proud to stand beside you as we serve our students, parents, staff members and communities.