Ferd Kiesel Award winner Anthony Knight.Attendees in a session introduce themselves.Attendees in a session introduce themselves.Parvin Ahmadi and Veronica Mondragon, LHA.The brand new Hilton Union Square ballroom.Eveline Huh shares best practices.Buck Roggeman hands out encouraging stickers.Buck Roggeman hands out encouraging stickers.Four of the 2021 ESS winners with ACSA leaders.Former SF Mayor Willie Brown welcomes attendees.Planning Committee Chair Maria Thompson.Attendees write notes to military service members.Marcus Foster Memorial Award winner Raul MaldonadoPerformance artist David Garibaldi.Christine Paik accepts Marian Kim Phelps' award.New ACSA members are welcomed on stage.Keynote Dr. Rick Rigsby.Performance artist David Garibaldi.R18 Consultant Tom Teagle with vintage ACSA gear.Attendees during a general session.2021 Continuation/Ed Options AOY Erick Fineberg.Keynote Emily Esfahani Smith.2021 C&I Admin of the Year Kimberly MacKinney.Gina Potter and award winner Carol Osborne.Attendees share how their school year is going.ACSA Board Officers Charlie Hoffman and Erin SimonRobert E. Kelly Award winner Will Ector.Attendees discuss equity in grading.2021 Professor of Ed Denise Wickham.A reception celebrating ACSA's 50th birthday.
Education leaders reunite for 2021 Leadership Summit
November 15, 2021
School administrators reconnected and shared ways to reinvent education during ACSA’s 2021 Leadership Summit, held Nov. 4-6 in San Francisco.
This was the first in-person Leadership Summit since 2019. In 2020, the Summit and all other ACSA conferences were held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Summit was also the first conference to be hosted at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, which reopened in May following a more than 14-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In compliance with a local health order, attendees were required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, wear masks and answer daily health screening questions.
For nearly 800 attendees, it was a welcomed return to fellowship with administrators who have faced many of the same challenges during the school reopening period.
“It’s getting back to some of the main reasons I joined ACSA ­— collaborating with leaders and sharing best practices,” said John Schilling, superintendent/principal at Southside ESD in Region 10. “The enormity of everything we’ve been through and sharing that common struggle with other adults is another reason I’m here.”
Those who could not attend the conference in person had the option to view the Virtual Simulcast, which streamed keynote speakers and select sessions to virtual attendees.
Stephanie Wayment, assistant superintendent of Educational Services with Upper Lake USD, said that during a time when school leaders are being exposed to a lot of noise, the conference has offered crucial time for self reflection. “You hear the message you need to hear,” she said.
Here are just a few of the moments we experienced during this year’s Summit.
ACSA at 50: Region 18 Consultant Tom Teagle showed off his original ACSA membership card from when he joined in 1981 during a welcome reception Wednesday. The reception celebrated ACSA’s 50th anniversary with a slideshow, opportunities to reminisce and dessert.
Equity in grading: Presenters Patricia Brent-Sanco and Shawna Petit-Dinkins shared strategies Lynwood USD is using to ensure equitable grading practices, which resulted in 100 percent of the district’s African American students graduating on time in 2017-2019. “Grading systems should not be used to punish, control or for compliance,” Brent-Sanco said.
Zoe Dorado: Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate Zoe Dorado shared a poem “We Breathe” that evoked the history and pain of inter-racial violence.
Common sense: Keynote Dr. Rick Rigsby implored school leaders to “Be the kind of leader that your grandmother would hire” by using common sense and being guided by values. He evoked ACSA’s mission statement when challenging leaders to make California a world-class educational system: “Nothing prepares you for greatness like a time of uncertainty.”
Mayoral welcome: Attendees received a special welcome to San Francisco from the city’s former mayor Willie Brown. A former Speaker of the State Assembly who served in the legislature for more than 30 years, Brown said he jumped at the chance to speak to California’s public school leaders.
“Si se puede!”: Planning Committee Chair Maria Thompson greeted attendees and shared that this year’s planning committee was “relentless” in making sure this event was held in person.
Finding meaning: Emily Esfahani Smith shared how a pursuit of happiness will ultimately leave us feeling empty. It’s by cultivating meaning in our lives that we feel most at ease: “Happiness is something that’s not really available to a lot of people right now. Meaning is still available to us.” She also described “post-traumatic growth” that most people experience following a difficult experience.
Practice saves lives: In a session on “Promoting Safety, Inclusion and Well-being for LGBTQ Students,” attendees had the opportunity to practice using gender-neutral pronouns (they/them) when speaking. Presenters Vincent Pompei, director, Youth Well-Being Program, Human Rights Campaign, and Eduardo Reyes, assistant superintendent of Human Resources, Sweetwater UHSD, shared that having LGBTQ-affirming staff benefits students in many ways, including improving attendance, increasing graduation rates and reducing suicide. “Do this work because it saves lives,” Pompei said.
Portrait of greatness: Performance artist David Garibaldi painted a live portrait following Friday’s awards dinner. He flung and smudged paint on a black canvas while Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” played, eventually revealing a portrait of California native and poet Amanda Gorman, who read her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of Joe Biden earlier this year.
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