Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt, a master storyteller and teacher; Daniel Pink, another award-winning author and an expert on global markets; and CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien are among the key attractions at this year’s American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Conference on Education, which begins Feb. 14.

AASA’s annual conference and exposition opens Thursday at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, with the first pre-conference “leadership institutes” beginning at 8:30 a.m. Now in its 140th year, the National Conference on Education draws superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, central-office staff, and emerging leaders from around the country for four days of knowledge building and networking.

On Thursday, Feb. 14, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Michael Fullan, professor emeritus at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, will give the first featured presentation, while William E. Milliken, founder and vice chairman of Communities in Schools, will serve as the first distinguished lecturer.

And from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, Frank McCourt, educator and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angela’s Ashes, will formally kick off the event with a general session talk about “Clashing Classrooms — From Ireland to America.” McCourt will share his experiences with education, both growing up in Ireland and from his years of teaching. Comparing and contrasting the differences from country to country, past and present, he will show how far education has come–and where it must go to continue improving in the future.

For the subsequent three days, AASA conference attendees will have the opportunity to attend more distinguished lectures and featured presentations, as well as educational sessions focused on topics important to today’s education leaders.

Beginning Friday, Feb. 15, at 10:45 a.m., AASA’s conference sessions will contain valuable information and ideas for everyone in school system leadership. All sessions fall into seven “focus zones”: Support for the Profession, Advocacy for Public Education, Leadership and Governance, Student Achievement and Readiness, Global Perspective, Aspiring Leaders, and AASA Center for System Leadership.

On Friday, February 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 16, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., venture into the East Hall of the Tampa Convention Center to learn about education products and services from more than 300 exhibiting companies.

Also on the floor of the East Hall from Thursday, Feb. 14, at 8:00 a.m., though Sunday, Feb. 17, at 10:00 a.m., attendees can visit the AASA Bookstore to find titles at discounted prices, invited authors featured at book signings, AASA souvenir items, and more. Shipping for your bookstore purchases will be available throughout the conference.

On Friday, Feb. 15, eSchool News will honor the winners of its Eighth Annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards with a closed luncheon at the Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel and Marina. Be sure to check the eSchool News Conference Information Center for coverage of the awards ceremony.

On Sunday, Feb. 18, from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m., political consultant and television commentator James Carville and Republican activist and television commentator Mary Matalin will close the conference. “As we head toward a pivotal national election,” says Paul D. Houston, AASA’s executive director, hearing these political consultants who love one another but belong to different political parties promises to make for “insightful and entertaining dialogue.”

For complete coverage of AASA’s National Conference, keep watching the Conference Information Center at eSchool News Online all week.

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