AASA Central | Network News: Volume 1, Edition 1
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Network News: Volume 1, Edition 1


Volume 1, Edition 1

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 “Our goal is to bottle the spirit of collegiality, professionalism, support, caring, friendship, growth, and reflection that are pervasive in every cohort, academy, and thought leader group in the AASA Leadership Network…”
Mort Sherman, Associate Executive Director, Leadership Network

In this Issue

Preparing Students for the 21st Century Workplace—A Case Study of an Exemplary Apprenticeship Program


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The Leadership Network department is working closely with the AASA Department of Children’s Programs in an exciting new initiative exploring 21st-century career preparation and the power of youth apprenticeships. This program is supported by Booz Allen Hamilton and the U.S. Department of Labor. During the one year of this investigation, we will be producing a range of resources for educational leaders.



The Importance of Cross-Functional
Partnerships—An Update on AASA’s Partnerships with the Wallace Foundation and CoSN


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A highly significant aspect of AASA’s networking process is its involvement with cross-functional partnerships, including agreements with such national organizations as the Wallace Foundation and CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking). For example, through its affiliation with the Wallace Foundation (whose mission is to foster improvements in learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and the vitality of the arts for everyone), AASA has formed the Educational Leadership Initiative to develop, test and share useful approaches for training educational leaders.



Insights and Perspectives from AASA Cohort Members

Insights on the Importance of Networking
in the Life of Current and Future District Leaders


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Mike Daria currently serves as superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools in Alabama, a direct of 10,600 students (Pre-K-12). Mike describes his involvement in the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program® as a powerful opportunity for both professional and personal growth: “I serve as superintendent in a community that is eager to change outcomes for each and every student. As a new superintendent, I wanted a learning experience and a professional network that pushed and challenged me to grow into becoming a highly effective superintendent so that my district can thrive.”


Why Networks Matter: Introducing a New AASA Video

We are pleased to share the latest Leadership Network video entitled “Why Networks Matter.” Networking is an essential survival tool for superintendents and other educational leaders. We hope this video will be a great discussion-starter for your leadership team. Enjoy!




Addressing the Potential and Needs of Urban Learners:
Perspectives from a Participant in the AASA Aspiring Superintendents Academy


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Fernando Benavides is currently the director of secondary human resources, the Mansfield Independent School District, in Texas, serving a student population of 32,500. Fernando tells us: “I have been a public-school educator for over 24 years and a principal at the secondary level for 11 years in my previous district. I was looking for an opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and wasn’t sure about my next career decision or direction. I was encouraged to join AASA and the Aspiring Superintendents Academy by a colleague who had previously attended the program.”

The Power of Personalized Learning:
Reflections from a Member of the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort


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Kristin Landis, a new member of our Personalized Learning Cohort, shared: “As a first-year member of the Leadership Design Institute from the MCiU (Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County Intermediate Unit 23), we began connecting with other districts starting this work but realized we’d like to see implementation in action. The AASA Personalized Learning Cohort provides us an opportunity to visit and learn from districts who are farther along in this work. The cohort has connected me to leaders all over the country who are implementing this work. Learning from others is critical in this work.”


Getting Involved:
An Invitation from Mort Sherman

Our purpose is to serve as a personalized professional learning continuum to meet superintendents and other educational leaders’ needs at their point of need via job-embedded programs throughout their careers as well as opportunities to connect with peers and mentors as they progress in their field. We provide real-world certification, in-depth professional learning, critical friendships and mentors, research, resources, and models for leading-edge methodologies and technologies.

There are six pathways you might consider as part of your development journey with AASA:

  1. Join

    If you are not already a member of AASA, you can join directly at AASA.org/join.aspx.

  2. Prepare

    If you are an aspiring administrator actively pursuing your first—or next—post as a superintendent or other district leader, consider joining our Aspiring Superintendents Academy, our Collaborative Regional Aspiring Superintendents Academies, or our National Aspiring Principal Academy.

  3. Certify

    AASA’s Leadership Network “CERTIFY” program represents the nation’s only on-the-job preparation for early-career chief executives backed by the nation’s largest, most diverse network of superintendents. Programs include our National Superintendent Certification Program® and our Urban Superintendents Academy.

  4. Learn

    The Leadership Network represents a large array of targeted collaborative and professional learning opportunities to deepen your understanding of key topics, issues, and processes required of superintendents today. Consider joining one or more of the following: Women’s Leadership Collaborative, National Women’s Leadership Collaborative, Women in School Leadership, National Principal Supervisory Academy, Leadership Academy, or our Social and Emotional Learning Cohort.

  5. Innovate

    Our network facilitates programs that actively innovate in public school classrooms, making a direct impact on districts. They combine promising practices with gatherings of like-minded educational leaders. You may wish to become a part of one or more of the following: Redefining Ready!, Early Learning Cohort, STEM Leadership Consortia, Digital Learning Consortium, Personalized Learning Cohort, and our Collaborative Innovative Networks.

  6. Collaborate

    We encourage our members to share their knowledge, expertise, and professional experiences with other members of our profession. Our “COLLABORATE” programs and services help to meet your critical needs, drive change and innovation, produced published research, and better meet student needs. Please consider sharing your expertise via one or more of the following avenues: Become a mentor, develop a custom initiative, form partnerships, and/or mentorships.

If you’d need more information about how to engage with AASA’s Leadership Network, please click here.





Networking takes a variety of forms. These days, electronic networks offer an amazing range of resources and connections for AASA members. For example, many of our members blog regularly as a way of staying connected with their district, school, and professional communities. If you go online to our AASA website, you will find a detailed directory to the blogs currently being kept by superintendents and other school leaders. If you’d like to add an AASA member’s blog to this list, please email us at magazine@aasa.org .

In addition to these members’ blogs, we also invite you to visit our blog, The AASA Leadership Network Blog: Highlighting the work being done in AASA’s Leadership Network department.




An Introduction to Our Staff

For this first volume of our newsletter, we thought our readers might enjoy learning about the full-time staff who make up our Leadership Network AASA team.

Mort Sherman

Mort Sherman has more than 30 years of administrative experience in raising academic standards, closing achievement gaps and uniting stakeholders.

Bernadine Futrell

Bernadine Futrell is an educational assessment, evaluation, research and policy expert. She currently serves as the director of leadership services.

Valerie Truesdale

Valerie Truesdale joined the AASA Leadership Network in January 2019. She is responsible for developing, leading and implementing AASA’s professional learning programs, including Women in School Leadership, Wallace grants, strategic partnerships, professional learning and consortia.

Debbie Magee

Debbie Magee is currently program manager for the Leadership Network. As Mort Sherman likes to point out, she is an exceptional manager who represents AASA in all of her interactions with both membership and external organizations.

Carolyn Conoboy

Carolyn Conoboy is currently the Administrative Assistant to the Leadership Network Team. She joined AASA, The School Superintendents Association in 1995 where she originally provided support to the National Academy for School Executives which was a division of AASA providing professional development for administrators across the country. Carolyn assists in getting all behind the scenes work completed for the Leadership Network Team in addition to staffing the front desk for the entire association. Carolyn is an Arlington, Virginia native.

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