ASBA Connect E-News


Goodbye Dusty Thick Binder, Hello Productive Discussion

Harrison Williams

By Dr. Sheila Harrison-Williams, ASBA Executive Director

Take a moment and read these two words: strategic plan. Now close your eyes and picture one. If what comes up is a thick binder, gathering dust on a shelf next to other thick binders from five- and 10-years past, you’re not alone.

So, what’s wrong? Why does strategic planning so often fail to do what it intends to do? The purpose of strategic planning is to connect the district’s mission and vision. It is the goals that will put you on a path to achieving your vision – a literal roadmap to success.

The problem is part process and part people. Strategic plans all tend to look pretty much the same. As a teacher starting out in the Chicago public school system, these two words – strategic plan, were always used but rarely brought to life. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Chicago or Arizona, the results won’t change if the plan isn’t activated. Creating and activating a strategic plan is how you stop doing the same things and expecting a different result.

Ensuring the plan was developed with stakeholder input is also critical to success. Unfortunately, many organizations including school districts have flawed processes and are unable to get the right people at the table for a productive discussion. By encouraging individual strategic thinking and introducing fresh perspectives into the discussion, we can ensure that the solutions we arrive at are more relevant and actionable.

At ASBA, in order to “cultivate excellence in locally-governed school districts,” we must ensure we are focused on this mission, carried out through our key function areas:

  1. Provide training and leadership development.
  2. Represent and advocate for the diverse needs of our membership.
  3. Provide products and services that support district success.

In support of our strategic plan, developed by the ASBA Board of Directors with the executive director and staff leaders, we will be carrying out that mission through a focus on these three proposed goals.

  1. Develop highly effective board members and educational leaders and promote opportunities for them to lead beyond the district level.
  2. Arizona school district leaders understand equity in education and are taking active steps to ensure every student achieves to their fullest potential.
  3. ASBA is the most influential voice for public education.

As ASBA grows and evolves, crucial conversations on what we can improve on and what we should continue doing as your association are necessary and must take place with the diversity of the members we serve. As your new executive director, I want to learn from you on how we can deepen member connections and ensure you believe that this is your association.

You will see #MyASBA throughout our communications this year as board members describe how ASBA has personally connected with them. Whether it’s adopting our equity framework, voting on our bylaws or getting involved on a committee or alliance, we want you to feel that ASBA is your association and represents your boards, schools, students and communities.

After 30 years of serving in public education in various roles, as a past superintendent and now executive director, I’ve learned it’s critical to have these types of conversations to ensure we are continuously improving and meeting people’s needs. Get rid of the dusty thick binder and start thinking of how ASBA can help your district and board advocate for the best schools in every Arizona community.

Know Anyone Running for School Board? Send Them Our Way!

Know anyone running for school board? Send them our way! New Webinars

You may have community members interested in running for your school board. Direct them our way!

The Arizona School Boards Association is committed to cultivating excellence in locally-governed school districts. We know the best way to guarantee a quality school in every Arizona community is a well-functioning, locally elected school board. As such, we are dedicated to supporting the efforts of potential and future school board governing members.

ASBA is providing the following webinars for anyone that is interested in running for the school board.

Thursday, February 13, 6-7 pm
General Overview

  • Intro of ASBA and Thank you for considering serving on a school board
  • Legal Basis for School Boards
  • What do School Boards Do?
  • Qualifications for board service
  • The Basics of Board Service
  • Team Member Roles in School districts
  • Rewards of Board Service

Wednesday, March 25, 6-7 pm

Getting on the Ballot, Fundraising, and Campaigning

  • Running for School Board: Legal Requirements for getting on the ballot
  • What happens once I am on the ballot?
  • Campaigning 101
  • Fundraising
  • Getting your name out
  • Messaging
  • Campaign Materials (website, social media sites, signs, direct mail, phone calls and walks, automated calls or robocalls)

Tuesday, November 9, 6-7 pm
I was Elected: What Now?

  • What Can I Do Now? (participating in meetings, executive sessions, board updates, etc.)
  • ASBA’s New Board Member Orientation Program
  • District Onboarding (see onboarding tool)
  • Organizational Meeting

All webinars are recorded and emailed directly to registrants. For more information on how to become a school board member, please visit,

Equity Event: Don’t Forget Registration Ends Feb. 28

ASBA is excited to have Erica Maxwell, Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion from the Arizona Department of Education who will be presenting on why her position was created and what her department is working on for the state of Arizona.

PLUS our keynote speakers and other session topics. View the full agenda below.

8:00-8:30 a.m.Check-In, Continental BreakfastRegistration
8:30-9:00 a.m.Welcome & Introduction Equity Through the Arts: Payson Marching BandDr. Sheila Harrison-Williams, ASBA Executive Director and Erica Maxwell, Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Arizona Dept. of Education
9:00-12:00 p.m.Inclusive Leaders: Who Are They? How Do You Become One?Dr. Helen Abdali Soosan Fagan, Director of Leadership Engagement, Rural Schools Institute at University of Nebraska
12:00-1:00 p.m.Lunch & Resource Fair Equity Through the Arts: Marcos de Niza Mariachi BandCommunity organizations supporting student inclusion
1:00-1:45 p.m.Welcoming Schools: Refugee Students & FamiliesMelissa Maness, Education & Learning Manager, International Rescue Committee; Naruro Hassan, ASU Student and Refugee Student Advocate
1:45-2:30 p.m.Welcoming Schools: Immigrant Students & FamiliesJose Patino, Director of Education & Advocacy, Aliento; Juan Cisneros, Student, Aliento Youth
2:30-2:45 p.m.Break
2:45-3:30 p.m.Welcoming Schools: LGBTQ+ Students & FamiliesCheryl Greene, Deputy Director, Welcoming Schools; Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
3:30-4:15 p.m.Welcoming Schools: Foster Students & FamiliesJoey Taylor, Foster Care Education Coordinator, Arizona Department of Education
4:15-4:30 p.m.Closing RemarksASBA Staff
4:30-6:00 p.m.Reception & Entertainment

ASBA Celebrates Black History Month #equity365

Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role they play in U.S. history. As part of ASBA’s Equity365 initiative, we want members to learn and understand the importance of equity, inclusion and cultural awareness of students attending our public schools. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, from January 2, 1970 – February 28, 1970. Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”

View how a few schools are celebrating Black History Month on AZEdNews.

Check back for more stories throughout the month. How are your schools celebrating Black History Month?

AZEdNews Classroom Grant Awarded to Canyon Springs Stem Academy Teacher…Apply Now

The second AZEdNews classroom grant goes to LaRae Klay for a sensory board initiative for students at Canyon Springs STEM Academy in the Deer Valley Unified School District.

The sensory boards will be displayed in specific locations around campus to provide students with a sensory walk, which combined with other sensory materials on the board – such as twinkling lights, Velcro and buttons – displayed to foster engagement, will provide learning opportunities and a break-time space for students who need one, Klay said.  Read the full article here and learn how to apply!

ASBA Events

Rural Advocacy Day 2020

February 17 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Join colleagues from across the state to focus on the needs and challenges of rural and remote public schools. Learn about what’s developing in the 2020 Legislative Session, meet with your legislators to advocate for your school district and attend a House Education Committee hearing! This event is open to board members, superintendents and others.

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