Summit focused on diversity, equity and inclusion
From the ACSA President, Erin Simon
November 14, 2022
The ACSA Leadership Summit was held Nov. 3-5 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. The Summit is ACSA’s flagship professional development event for school leaders. This annual gathering of educators at all levels of administration is always a celebration of the entire profession.
The Summit offered an audience representing educational leaders an opportunity to better understand issues that perpetuate educational inequities and to explore ideas and programs being implemented across the state to close opportunity gaps. The Summit attracted more than 1,000 attendees.
This event provided opportunities for invaluable networking and offered professional development on current critical leadership and educational issues.
There were more than 90 educational sessions this year that included strands put on by ACSA Councils and Committees, member workshops and partner presentations. Discussions and presentations focused on this year’s three main themes, “Ignited, Energized, and United: Equitable Leaders Equipped to Serve.”
The themes equipped attendees with tools and resources to inform and change inequitable practices within their schools, districts and higher education institutions to improve public education in California.
Setting the stage
Summit kicked off on Thursday with the First-time Attendees Breakfast. The breakfast was followed by the Every Student Succeeding Presentation whereby LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho celebrated 21 student winners who have overcome tremendous adversity through perseverance. Carvalho encouraged us to imagine the possibilities for students.
Thursday afternoon’s Women’s Luncheon featured Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor and former Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. Dr. Abdullah framed her keynote around the journey toward liberation and why it’s important to reclaim truth, specifically for those who identify as BIPOC.
Friday’s Equity Luncheon featured San Diego County Superintendent Dr. Paul Gothold. Dr. Gothold showed us through his work that equity is love in action.
The ACSA/USC Rossier School of Education Leadership Institute for Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and Aspiring Superintendents was a new strand that ACSA added to this year’s Summit conference. Led by Rossier School of Education Faculty and moderated by Dean Dr. Pedro Noguera, the institute focused on the following topics: Leading in Times of Radical Change, Navigating and Building Board Relations, Equitable Superintendency Practices and Environments, Moving from Theory into Practice, and Finance and Education Policy. Many superintendents and assistant superintendents expressed that these professional learning topics were timely and necessary to be successful in California’s public schools. The panelists discussed the importance of leading with courage for the sake of our students.
Summit also featured three keynote speakers: Erin Gruwell, Dr. Victor Rios and Jeffrey Robinson.
Dr. Victor Rios, associate dean of social sciences and professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, opened the Summit on Thursday with a keynote titled, “Strengthening Student Success through Emotional Support: The Power of Educators in the Lives of Marginalized Students.” Dr. Rios highlighted the importance of changing culture not mindsets and why our students need us to “MasBloom” (balance love and high expectations for students).
Jeffrey Robinson, deputy legal director and director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, provided the keynote speech on Friday. His keynote focused on “A Look at Who We Are.” He framed his keynote around George Orwell’s warning that “Who controls the past controls the future.” He reminded us that it is important to identify the sources of the information we receive.
Our desire was to Ignite, Energize and Unite educational leaders, while also equipping such leaders with the tools necessary to make courageous change in their schools and districts.
And lastly, Erin Gruwell, founder and executive director of the Freedom Writers Foundation, closed the Summit on Saturday with an amazing talk on “Becoming a Catalyst for Change.” She reminded educators that we must know the stories of our students in order to help them elevate and rise.
I would be remiss if I did not congratulate this year’s award winners for the Administrators of the Year and Special Awards, which were presented Friday night, for their outstanding performance and achievement.
I am so proud of this year’s planning committee, led by Leadership Summit Chair Dr. Patricia Brent-Sanco. Our desire was to Ignite, Energize and Unite educational leaders, while also equipping such leaders with the tools necessary to make courageous change in their schools and districts.
This Summit has allowed me to deeply understand the need for caring and daring courageous leadership. To that end, I leave you with a quote by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, which I believe sums up my perspective of this year’s Summit: “We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”
Let’s elevate! We must be the change we wish to see in our schools and districts. Our students are depending on us to be the change.
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