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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Attendees at ACSA’s 2020 Leadership Summit shared what they are champions for.Members of Region 15 wearing shirts with their theme this year: “Be the Bridge.Adonai Mack and Dr. Joseph Jackson on the main stage at Summit.ACSA’s 2020 Leadership Summit had a main stage with 20 hours of live content.Keynote Elizabeth Smart shares her story and answers questions.
Champions for students convene at Summit
November 16, 2020
Education leaders recently took two days out of perhaps the most challenging period of their careers to focus on being even better leaders for students.
They came to ACSA’s 2020 Leadership Summit, which was held online Nov. 5-6 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t stop the more than 600 attendees from gaining new ideas and inspiration to be “Champions for Every Child.” They had access to more than 50 live and pre-recorded sessions, attended virtual networking events, heard from three engaging keynote presenters, and celebrated their peers and students during two awards ceremonies.
Here is just a sampling of quotes we heard at this year’s Leadership Summit.
“When did I stop being cute and start being scary?” This quote comes from an essay written by 11-year-old Edendale Middle School student Jolia Bossette sharing her experience of being a black kid in America. Belen Magers, assistant superintendent, human resources, in San Lorenzo USD, showed a video version of the essay during the “Showing up as Racial Equity Leaders” presentation. Magers said her district has gone about intentionally hiring people of color for teaching and administrative positions by making sure job postings emphasize the district is seeking racially conscious educators. Co-presenter in the session Amy McNamara, associate superintendent, Acalanes UHSD and this year’s ACSA Valuing Diversity Award recipient, shared that many districts talk “around” race and need to start having deeper conversations. “The fear of white leaders to talk about race is becoming a destructive force in this country,” McNamara said.
“Rural is much bigger than we might think.” Colleen Myers, Ed.D., principal, Hollister SD shared her research on rural school districts, which account for 60 percent of the districts in California. In her Table Talk on Rural Leadership, Myers said rural districts are usually tied to a feature of the land for employment and are often impacted by distance from services. Many districts in rural areas are led by a superintendent/principal, who many times is also a teacher — or the only teacher. While many of these leaders are strapped for time, resources and support, avenues like the California Rural Ed Network can bring them together.
“If you’ve seen one alternative education school, you’ve seen one.” Milisav Llic, administrative director, Corona-Norco USD shared during the Education Options Council’s presentation that these schools are given a lot of flexibility to build programs that serve the needs of their students. Co-presenter Elsie Briseno Simonovski, director, Child Welfare & Attendance, Buena Park shared the importance of hiring teachers who “really want to be there” for students at alternative education schools.
“Are we just feeding chickens?” Dr. Joseph Johnson, Executive Director, National Center for Urban School Transformation shared this analogy during the Equity Lunch and Learn. He explained how teaching can sometimes be like feeding chickens. The farmer tosses the feed into the yard. Some chickens eat it, and if the chickens don’t eat it, fine — it’s their job to eat it, not the farmer’s. Johnson said we should not be satisfied at just throwing information at students. We need evidence that students are “ingesting” what they are learning and applying their knowledge.
“BOOM!” ACSA’s Elementary Education Council shared fast tips for leading during COVID-19, such as “flipping” their classrooms, participating in e-sports leagues, incorporating mindful moments, and finding ways to virtually have fun. Following each mini-presentation featuring the presenter’s bitmoji, attendees were asked to unmute their screens and say or type “Boom.”
“Who’s wearing their swag?” ACSA Senior Director of Member Services Margarita Cuizon-Armelino invited members to wear their ACSA gear during one of the networking sessions, where ACSA members got to take a break and spin the virtual wheel to win prizes.
“It’s not what happens to you that defines you, it’s what you do next.” Keynote Elizabeth Smart told her story of surviving being kidnapped in 2002 at the age of 14. During a live Q&A session afterward, she spoke about the importance of supporting students who are doing distance learning at home with their abusers. “There’s a lot of children suffering right now,” she said. “The sooner we can open up schools, the better.”
“I didn’t think anybody realized how hard it’s been for me in life.” Every Student Succeeding winner from Region 11 Americus Campos reflected on what it meant to win the award during the online recognition event, which honored students from all 19 regions and two adult education students.
“I fill my cup because someone is relying on me to take care of their child.” Keynote Hamish Brewer was asked what keeps him going during the pandemic and this difficult period of distance learning. Brewer shared that he’s come to love his job even more in the last year than ever before. Brewer believes educators are “the lighthouse” in our communities.
“My favorite empathy tool is curiosity.” During the presentation “A Great Leader L.E.A.D.S. with Courage, Connection and Compassion,” Joelle Hood, chief empowerment officer at Thriving YOUniversity, shared how she can change how she feels about a situation by becoming curious. For instance, if a driver cuts her off in traffic, she asks questions: Was this person in a hurry? Why were they in a hurry?
“Who’s really teaching our kids right now?” Malikah Nu’Man, transition teacher coordinator in LAUSD, shared her dissertation research on how teacher trauma is affecting teachers’ ability to be their best selves when they show up to work. Her research found 80 percent of teachers have been verbally/physically attacked or threatened at their school sites. Teachers also experience a secondary trauma from the emotional load of seeing what their students experience — something Nu’Man expects will increase during the pandemic. She shared strategies for dealing with trauma, including peer support, restorative practices and self-care.
“Connection before correction.” DJ Batiste shared that when his teacher Donna Porter connected with him, it gave him a positive reason to come to school — and it changed his life. The duo gave the inspiring closing keynote of the conference and shared how a love-based approach to students works better than punishment.
The Quotable Hamish Brewer
The tattooed skateboarding principal Hamish Brewer joined ACSA’s Leadership Summit as the keynote presenter Friday morning and energized viewers by sharing his values and beliefs about education. Here are just a few of his quotes:

“Can you say that every decision that you made was best for kids today?”

“You can’t serve someone you think you’re better than.”

“Today is about the application of knowledge – that’s rigor. Rigor is not more, it’s the ability to apply knowledge, not regurgitate knowledge.”

“If you want to be a manager, go to the Home Depot and manage. We’re leaders.”

“I’ll fight you for my kids.”

“What gives any of us the right to decide who’s the bad kid?”

“I look at my kids as an opportunity, not an obligation.”

“You can’t discipline trauma, and poverty is not a learning disability.”
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