President's Corner

Keeping Students Front and Center
By Deborah L. Kerr/School Administrator, August 2019

ONE OF AASA'S most important leadership roles is that of advocacy — working collaboratively with all stakeholders to positively influence educational policy grounded in research and best practice. AASA is steadfast in its commitment to advocating for legislative policies that address the unique needs of all of our students and especially those who are underserved.

Advocacy for equity and excellence in our public schools is also my top priority as your AASA president. All of our students deserve the very best. We can close achievement gaps only through your strong and innovative leadership, and I am committed to sup-porting that leadership in promoting high student learning outcomes for all students.

Advocacy may look different in each of our districts, but we all have a common goal: to fully engage our respective communities to advocate on behalf of all students. To engage our communities, we must come together in ways that build trust and understanding and allow for collaborative relationships. Only through collaboration will we be able to effectively champion the values of public education and unite diverse perspectives.

Starting those conversations can be challenging. However, I believe one of the best ways to begin is by keeping students and their families front and center. We must be courageous in starting the conversations because we are the voice for all of our students, our dedicated staff and our school communities.

The theme for my presidency is “Inspire, Innovate and Lead Greatly.” Each month, I will share experiences that inspire me as a leader to influence innovative practices and lead greatly. I will focus on the children and staff whom we serve and share perspectives that I hope will resonate with you and your teams.

One experience that inspired me earlier this year was the opportunity to help plan a women’s networking meeting, “Bold Women, Bold Coffee,” for AASA’s national conference in Los Angeles. I am thankful for those of you who attended the event and who shared your hopes and dreams of working together as AASA members.

One thing we learned in our short time together is that there are many women leaders who are eager for networking support, who are committed to helping others as mentors or coaches and who firmly believe that AASA can be a catalyst in providing more equitable opportunities for all women leaders. We came together from various parts of the world in the spirit of being bold to speak our truths and share our stories. We left this event as colleagues feeling empowered and affirmed in our leadership roles.

Women leaders do matter. I look forward to growing opportunities not only for women who are already in leadership roles but also for those aspiring to be leaders. I am pleased to announce the second annual “Bold Women, Bold Coffee” networking event being planned for Friday, Feb. 12, at the 2020 National Conference on Education in San Diego. Mark your calendars and watch for more details.

Also, this past spring, AASA launched the 2019 National Women’s Leadership Consortium under the leadership of Valerie Truesdale, assistant executive director of leadership development. This revitalized vision of the consortium builds upon the foundation AASA started several years ago to elevate the role of women leaders in education. I look forward to working with Valerie to promote and advance all women in school leadership.

The world is constantly changing but our unconditional commitment to serve all children in our public schools will never change. Thank you for your leadership and advocacy for public education as we keep our students front and center in all that we do! I hope you have a wonderful opening of your school year — one filled with much joy and optimism.

Inspire, Innovate and Lead Greatly.

DEBORAH KERR is AASA president in 2019-20. Twitter: @DrDLKerr