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Superintendents' Annual Conference Stresses 'Leading For Excellence'

UPDATED

The AASA, School Superintendents Association, kicks off its annual conference on education today in Phoenix, under the theme "Leading For Excellence."

Dozens of sessions are scheduled on a variety of topics including equity in education, superintendent and school board relations, the Common Core State Standards, the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act, technology innovation, student well-being, and instructional leadership.

Social media is also a big deal here. There are lengthy sessions that will include tips and best practices from superintendents who are prolific social media users on how to effectively use Twitter, blogs, and other social media platforms to get their districts' messages across to the community and as learning tools.

The social media focus is not surprising. Though a cursory scroll through Twitter will reveal that an array of district school chiefs are embracing the platform, an AASA survey released last year showed that many superintendents were not big fans of social media, listing it as one of the factors that impede their ability to do their jobs.

The AASA's governing body on Wednesday chose Gail Pletnick, the superintendent of the 25,000-student Dysart Unified School District in Surprise, Ariz., as its new president elect. Pletnick was a 2014 Education Week Leader To Learn From, selected for her success in bringing innovative technology approaches and personalized learning to a growing district on a limited budget.

On Thursday, the organization will announce the  2016 National Superintendent of the Year from four finalists:

  • Pamela Moran, Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Va.;
  • Thomas Tucker, Princeton City Schools, Cincinnati, Ohio;
  • Steven Webb, Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Wash.; and
  • Freddie Williamson, Hoke County Schools, Raeford, N.C.

The AASA will also award the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award to Elizabeth Ann Sanders, an adjunct professor at Baker University in Kansas. On Friday it will also hand out two "Women in School Leadership" awards in the superintendent/assistant superintendent category and in the central office administrator/school-based principal/or specialist category.

Those who are not in Phoenix can keep track of the highlights on Conference Daily Online, which will be powered by superintendent-bloggers, or follow the conference on Twitter using the hashtag #NCE16.

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