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Superintendents association connects and supports school leaders

AASA provides superintendents with networking opportunities, professional development resources, mentoring and advocacy
Dan Domenech
Dan Domenech

Collaboration is a 21st-century skill school leaders are trying to instill in students. What kind of collaboration can superintendents engage in to help run their districts at optimal effectiveness?
Collaborating with peers is one of the best ways a superintendent can gain insight into their own position. At AASA, the School Superintendents Association, one of our core goals is to connect school leaders who are dealing with similar issues so they can discuss shared problems and potential solutions.
For example, we have a group for superintendents of large county school systems. These administrators confer about the obstacles specific to districts with over 100,000 students. Two of our newest programs include one for superintendents interested in the Maker Movement and another for those focused on personalized learning.
The ultimate goal is to get leaders together to engage with real issues. Coming together in person is especially important in developing bonds, interacting and networking.

Part of the mission of AASA is to support district leaders. What kind of support does it offer?
Our national superintendent certification program is an 18-month process designed for superintendents with less than five years of experience. It is a leadership development initiative that gives new leaders the opportunity to be mentored by prominent and experienced superintendents. It is a unique experience that has become very popular.
We offer an outstanding national conference that is attended by over 3,000 of our members each year. Participants get the opportunity to attend workshops and presentations led by well-known thought leaders in the field of education.

AASA makes student advocacy a priority; how can aligning with such an organization help district leaders advocate for their students?
By being a member, superintendents grant their district access to our children’s programs. Right now, we have 11 school systems that are part of our Breakfast in the Classroom network. AASA provides participating districts with financial support to help support breakfast programs to ensure all students are fed and can concentrate on their learning.
We offer grants for purchasing coats or eyeglasses for students in need. We even take on the troubling challenge of uninsured students by working with the Children’s Defense Fund to get students enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The ultimate goal is to help districts provide direct service to students.

What are the top benefits of being an AASA member?
A major benefit not available anywhere else is professional liability insurance and legal assistance. If a superintendent purchased this individually, it would cost thousands of dollars. However, it is included as a perk of AASA membership. We estimate for the $447 AASA membership cost, members get over $3,500 worth of services—which does not even include the potential dollars from our grants and other district funding programs. In addition, AASA advocates for public education at the nation’s capital, representing our superintendents about important issues such as reauthorizing ESEA. Again, this type of work would be impossible to accomplish without the collaborative efforts of a national membership association.

For more information, visit www.aasa.org/Membership