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“Something Different”
in Our Leadership

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SPRING 2021

by Leisa Morton-Standish, PhD

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ducation leaders have been doing something exceptional—totally new—leading their schools through a global pandemic with a playbook that has never been written or tried before. Therefore, the Association of Seventh-day Adventist School Administrators (ASDASA) gave these leaders an opportunity to attend the ASDASA conference from February 15-17, 2021, where the theme was “Something Better.” Educators in the North American Division (NAD), and beyond, were able to take time out, in record numbers, for much needed professional development, spiritual renewal and reflection of their practice.

Every six years ASDASA meets for education leaders to keep abreast of current research and trends—to remain effective in their roles. ASDASA has been growing in popularity as our leaders have collaborated on timely issues facing our schools while growing professionally with presentations focusing on innovation and excellence.

A big part of ASDASA is connecting and networking with other leaders from across the country—in the halls, in the breakout rooms and across the table during shared meals. So, what would happen when the face-to-face conference was cancelled due to COVID?

NAD Vice President for Education, Dr. Arne Nielsen, shared, “We stepped forward in faith, with our Union Directors, and planned to move ahead. We worked with a virtual event planning platform, Cadence, to offer our very first virtual, leadership conference. We didn’t know what to expect.”

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Nielsen and his team of Education Directors developed an outstanding line-up of thought leaders and innovators for their keynotes which included Collaborative Leadership in Standards-based Schools, Meeting the Challenges of a Rapidly Changing World, Is My School Better Because I Lead It, and Creating “Something Better.” They also rolled out their new Journey to Excellence 2.0 Framework for Adventist Schools and an ambitious new mental health initiative.

And did they come?

Nielsen’s eyes lit up as he gave his signature smile, “Yes, they did show up, in record numbers! Our largest ASDASA conference to date was just short of 400. However, ASDASA 2021 had 711 registered attendees. God has truly blessed during this most challenging of times in our schools.”

ASDASA 2021 featured standout breakout sessions on Standards-based Learning, Collaborative Leadership, Mission-focused Schools, Leading in Times of Crisis, Leadership Evaluation, School Boards, Principals 101, Community Partners, Instructional Coaching, Professional Learning Communities, Data Driven Decision-making, Early Childhood Education, and many other outstanding administrative topics. “We are particularly excited to have our Early Childhood team at ASDASA with dedicated breakout sessions, for the first time,” states Evelyn Sullivan, NAD Education Director for Early Childhood and REACH.

We want to be relevant and discuss emerging ideas, innovative strategies in leadership and practices, as well as provide spiritual nurture for our leaders. Dr. Andrea Trusty-King provided spiritual nurture in moving worship topics centered around the theme of “Something Better.”

Attendees, speakers and exhibitors participated in exit surveys developed to gage the success of the event. The responses were overwhelmingly positive and can be summed up by this quote from a participant, “I have learned so much. I have been reminded of my role as an administrator and the purpose for which I was been called. Leaving this conference, I feel empowered and supported.” One leader reflected, “This was a great professional growth event. If you are not growing you’re dying. Change is perpetual—you need to keep up and keep current.”

All the sessions were recorded and uploaded onto the Adventist Learning Community so that spirit of growth and opportunity to learn can continue long after the conference ends.

Our prayer is that all attendees and organizers are committed to continuing to provide “Something Better” in Adventist Education.

 

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‘Something better

is the watchword of education, the law of all true living. … To honor Christ, to become like Him, to work for Him, is the life’s highest ambition and its greatest joy.”

Education, p. 296

copyright 2021 North American Division of Adventist Education. all rights reserved.