Current and aspiring education leaders attended the USC Rossier K-12/Higher Education Leadership Conference at the Davidson Conference Center on July 26 to network and hear from the nation’s top education administrators on the state of the profession today.
Nearly 200 Rossier alumni, students, and K-12 administrators attended the conference, which also featured breakout panel discussions focused on career pathways for leaders of schools, districts, and – for the first time – colleges and universities. Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher greeted the audience and introduced the special guests.
Co-sponsored by the Dean’s Superintendents Advisory Group (DSAG), the conference was attended by members of the Rossier Board of Councilors, includin; Mark Rocha (PhD ’88), superintendent/president of Pasadena City College; Don Leisey (EdD ’73), former superintendent and educational entrepreneur; Carol Fox (MS ’62), USC Trustee and Board of Councilors vice-chair.and DSAG Chair Greg Franklin (BA ’83, EdD ’97), superintendent of Tustin Unified School District.
“One thing that’s unique about USC Rossier is the connections you maintain after you get your degree,” Franklin told the crowd, which included a significant showing of Ed.D. alumni and students. “No other group in the world looks after their own like USC does.”
Rossier Professor Rudy Crew, who was recently appointed as Oregon’s Chief Education Officer, delivered a rousing keynote on leadership in the K-12 education system, and critical issues that future leaders need to address in order to truly transform their school districts for the better.
“You cannot do this work without signing up for leadership, and the context of leadership is as important as the ability to execute against a set of goals and objectives,” Crew said. “How you frame the discussion means everything. How you enter the human heart is everything, because this is just as much about the heart as it is the mind.”
Crew urged audience members to have courage as leaders to name the problem, articulate a strategy, and persevere through what can be likened to a war towards the goal. He also called on future leaders to take time to reflect.
“Ask yourself if you’re in love with these children and their futures. Or are you simply doing a job?” he said. “If you really love it, you’ll demonstrate your vulnerability… and you will be the best learner of your schools before you will be the best leader.”
Following the keynote, Franklin spoke about four critical challenges in K-12 education – globalization, IT revolution, budget constraints, and competition. He called for educators to find creative ways to use technology in classrooms despite the lack of funds.
“The technology we need to use to prepare kids for their careers has not been invented yet, but we still have to teach them how to think, apply and analyze,” Franklin said. “Manual jobs have been outsources or mechanized, and we need to prepare kids for high-level rigorous work.”
Attendees dispersed into four targeted panel discussions sessions which featured insights about careers in leadership from a host of Rossier alumni with extensive experience in the field.
Rossier Professor Pedro Garcia (EdD ‘83), former superintendent of Nashville Public Schools, moderated a panel for site administrators, which featured Erik Elward (EdD ‘11), founding principal of Alliance Health Services Academy High School; Myrna Morales (EdD ’05), assistant superintendent of human resources for Paramount Unified School District; and Andrew Pulver (EdD ‘11), assistant superintendent of human resources for the Los Alamitos Unified School District.
Franklin led a panel for district officers, with panelists Derrick Chau (PhD ‘02), instructional director at LAUSD; Helen Morgan (BS ‘82, EdD ‘10), superintendent of Hawthorne School District; and Jim Elsasser (EdD ‘11), superintendent of Claremont Unified School District.
Rossier Executive in Residence Mike Escalante (EdD ‘02), former superintendent of Glendale Unified School District, moderated the superintendents panel, featuring Rossier Professor Rudy Castruita (EdD ’83), former superintendent of schools for San Diego County, and Peggy Lynch, former superintendent for San Dieguito Union High School District.
Rocha moderated the conference’s higher education panel, which included Felicito Cajayon (EdD ’12), vice chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District’s Economic & Workforce Development Department; Sonja G. Daniels (EdD ‘10), associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Cal State Dominguez Hills; Felicia Hunt (ME ’96, EdD ‘04), associate dean of graduate studies at Cal Tech; and Professor John Brooks Slaughter, former president of Occidental College.
“This conference is such a valuable resource for our alumni and students to learn about the paths ahead of them as education leaders from members of our Trojan Family who have already charted the way,” said Kalim Rayburn (EdD ’11), director of alumni engagement at Rossier.
– By Andrea Bennett