AASA attendees affirmed their commitment to helping deliver top-notch education to students.

Nothing makes people come together in good spirits like unexpected warm weather in a terribly cold season, and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) took advantage of this by focusing on the importance of teamwork and collaboration during its 143rd annual Conference on Education in incredibly balmy Denver, Colo.

With sunny skies and a temperature of 55 degrees, attendees gathered at AASA’s opening session to discuss, among other things, how AASA’s mission statement has changed to reflect the modern superintendency.

Instead of focusing on professional development, which the organization says is still important, the statement now reads: The mission of [AASA] is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children.”

“To support and develop system leaders, you have to emphasize that seeking better understanding of how we can all work together is the key to success,” said Ed Hatrick, president of AASA and superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools, Va.

Hatrick mentioned that clearly the U.S. Department of Education, and specifically Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, understand this with their recent Labor Management Collaboration Conference, held in Denver two days before the conference began.

Keynote speaker Michael Fullan, professor emeritus for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, said a love of employees and building relationships are two components that, in his research and experience, have created the most influential leaders.

Fullan also gave attendees his “Six Secrets of Change”:

1.    Love your employees
2.    Connect peers with purpose
3.    Capacity building prevails
4.    Learning is the work
5.    Transparency rules
6.    Learn systems

“There are also three keys to becoming a great leader that have to do with actual implementation,” said Fullan, “and those are: focus on a small number of core priorities, attend to relationships, and go light on judgment.”