Reflections from AASA Faculty Members | AASA Central
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Reflections from AASA Faculty Members

Amy Sichel, AASA National Superintendent Certification Program®

As a recently retired and now a re-purposed superintendent, the role of Lead Superintendent with the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program® was a perfect transition and natural fit for me. Sitting in a unique place as a retired and long-term superintendent with the Abington School District and as a past president of AASA, I could not be more excited to continue to support the profession by guiding and preparing new and emerging superintendents to lead districts to success. I have been associated with the certification program since the inception and have had the opportunity to see the program evolve and grow.

The AASA National Superintendent Certification Program® was developed by superintendents, is exclusively for superintendents, and led by seasoned and successful superintendents, which continues to be an excellent formula to create and initiate premier professional development for the nation’s superintendents.  Having a ringside seat to see superintendents innovate, transform, and impact their educational systems is not only personally and professionally rewarding but provides evidence for the future success of public education.

Reflecting on my career as a school superintendent, there is no question that the role of superintendent is both a complex and very lonely position and probably one of the toughest positions to master and succeed.  I could not be prouder of the network and critical friends that is created within each cohort of the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program®.  This professional development experience consists of energetic superintendents who support each other with confidentiality and integrity.

The program provides a safe place as well a culture of caring, support, and guidance for all involved including the seasoned lead teachers, mentors and me.  The faculty is top-notch!  As Carol Kelley, Superintendent in Oak Park, IL stated: “The AASA’s National Superintendent Certification Program afforded me an opportunity to connect with experienced superintendents as my thought partners and access the latest research on how school systems can fulfill our vision of all children learning and thriving to their full potential.  In addition to these benefits, being a part of the program allowed me to develop a network of leading superintendents from across the nation.” 

As our Executive Director Dan Domenech would say, we need to continue to be “Champions for Children” as we offer an effective and high-quality education for our nation’s children in our nation’s public schools. Please commit to this quest for we all need to ensure that our superintendent leaders have the ability, vision, and passion to tackle the obstacles and challenges in today’s democracy and ensure that America’s children are well served.

Contact Information:


Steve Murley, Superintendent, Iowa City Community School District,

AASA National Superintendent Certification Program®

I have been truly blessed to serve as a mentor and teacher in the National Superintendent Certification Program. The superintendency is a solo role in every district.  It is often a position that you “learn by doing.”  Given the limited opportunities we have for peer-to-peer professional development, the learning curve can be steep and slow.  The National Superintendent Certification Program is one of the few opportunities that new-to-the-profession administrators have to accelerate their growth and truly develop a collaborative, nationwide peer network. Being a part of this professional development process and watching the impact that the superintendent capstone projects have in their home districts has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my time and service.

The content and the curriculum are developed by current practitioners with significant experience coast-to-coast and a background in multiple educational settings. Through a reflective feedback cycle, current participants provide significant input on content and curricula which undergoes annual updates to ensure that it is timely and topical.   For example, recent input from participants has led to a heightened focus on the board-superintendent relationship.  Being a part of this collaborative network allows us to explore the challenges of these relationships in a safe and secure setting that affords us the opportunity to return to our districts better prepared to serve our students, staff, parents, and community.

Contact Information:

Aaron Spence, Superintendent of Schools, Virginia Beach, Virginia

AASA National Superintendent Certification Program®

As Superintendent of Virginia Beach Public Schools, I am committed to ensuring that all students have access to the rigorous coursework, innovative learning opportunities, and resources they need to prepare them for success in college or the workforce. Working as a Lead Teacher in the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program® has also been incredibly rewarding.

The network of colleagues in our cohort is remarkable.  Their broad range of experiences and the settings in which they work create opportunities for robust dialogue and idea-sharing as we tackle some of the more interesting and challenging issues facing superintendents today.  In the certification program, we focus on building our competency around national leadership standards, and we do so in ways that are practicable and immediately applicable back in the district.

What we’ve tried to do in the program is to weave a narrative about our work that challenges participants to think through both the technical aspects of our work—human resources, budgeting, communications—and the need to cultivate relationships that will sustain us and ultimately define our success as district leaders.  Working on these relationships includes a focus on stakeholder engagement and development; working with our Boards; building capacity with our leadership teams, central offices and principals; and creating a collegial network.

Part of the latter happens as the cohorts are introduced to some of the leading thought partners in education from around the country; even more so, the friendships and support networks that develop in and amongst cohort members have proven invaluable for many who choose to participate and for me as a lead teacher.

Contact Information: Virginia Beach Public Schools, 804-562-4430

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