Ignite 23 was held in Aurora, Colo. From left, Gomes, Daniels, Conkle and Lawson get a photo in the “Rockies.”
ACSA members are energized for the new school year at NASSP conference
August 21, 2023
The national Ignite 23: NASSP School Leader Conference was held in Aurora, Colo., July 12-15, 2023. The ACSA delegation consisted of:
  • Heather Conkle, Region 12, principal, Silverado High School (Victor Valley UHSD) and ACSA Secondary Education Council President.
  • Terri Daniels, Region 3, principal, Folsom Middle School (Folsom-Cordova USD) and California’s NASSP State Coordinator.
  • Derrick Lawson, Region 19, principal, Indio High School (Desert Sands USD) and NASSP Board member.
  • Mary Gomes, ACSA Educational Services Executive.
The conference was built around four strands: Whole School Wellness, Student Engagement and Motivation, School Culture and Climate, and Building Leadership Capacity. There were a large number of break-out sessions featuring practicing site administrators sharing best practices and models of innovation. Each delegation member came back inspired with changes and actions to implement at their sites and to bring to the work of the ACSA Middle Grades and Secondary Education councils for the upcoming school year.
“For me, this year’s Ignite conference was the perfect marriage of professional development and networking,” Conkle said. “The session programming and keynote speakers were outstanding and the opportunity to interact with peers, especially the Women in Leadership Network, was unbeatable.”
In addition to 54 site administrators in attendance from California, ACSA leaders also were active in presenting and enhancing the capabilities of principals across the country. California’s State Coordinator Daniels presented a session entitled “Charting a Path for Having Difficult and Productive Conversations.”
“... Gaining more tools to add to my administrative toolbox launched me into the new school year with a renewed sense of optimism and hope.”
— Terri Daniels, Principal, Folsom Middle School, and California NASSP State Coordinator
“Ignite did not disappoint. Sharing with colleagues from around the country and gaining more tools to add to my administrative toolbox launched me into the new school year with a renewed sense of optimism and hope,” Daniels said. “The ability to learn from others and share all the wonderful initiatives we are implementing in California was energizing.”
Lawson, who also is a veteran Principals Academy Director, presented a session entitled “SEL and Self-Care for Site Leaders: The 3 R’s for Achieving Professional and Personal Balance.” This was also one of the featured topics last year in ACSA’s new K-12 Site Administrators Leadership Network.
“The connections renewed or made for the first time at the conference were like a year’s worth of booster shots and filled my bucket to overflowing,” Lawson said. “As one of the keynote speakers Principal Salome Thomas-El said, ‘The bravest act in challenging times is choosing to stay,’ and so I say thank you to our veteran site leaders who have stayed during these challenging times. Your brave act is inspiring as you help sustain our profession, mentor our new site leaders, and support our staff and students with your site leadership each and every day.”
Reflecting on what they experienced during the Ignite 23 conference, delegates expressed that if there was one thing they wanted ACSA site administrators to know, it would be that every school site leader needs to connect and not be “solo in a silo.” There is a vast network of support available to each principal with relationships that will bolster your resourcefulness, resilience and renewal, and help you lead the charge as we journey together to reshape the educational paradigm.
ACSA delegates at Ignite 23, the annual NASSP conference.
ACSA delegates at Ignite 23, the annual NASSP conference.
Terri Daniels snags a selfie with Ignite 23 keynote speaker Gerry Brooks.
ACSA delegates at Ignite 23, the annual NASSP conference.
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