Transforming
Education
to be More
Student-Centered,
Equity-Focused
and
Forward-Reaching
By Stuart Udell
Transforming
Education
to be More
Student-Centered,
Equity-Focused
and
Forward-Reaching
By Stuart Udell
G

iven the imperative decisions school districts are making due to the challenges and opportunities in today’s public education landscape, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, in partnership with an array of stakeholder organizations, has created a coalition to develop recommendations on transforming education to be more student-centered, equity focused and forward reaching.

Learning 2025: National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education is comprised of school district, business and non-profit leaders and is chaired by Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, and Bill Daggett, Founder of the International Center on Leadership for Education and the Successful Practices Network. The commission’s chief objective is to safely and equitably prepare all students for their workplaces and society of the future. I am honored to represent Achieve3000 as one of a couple dozen Learning 2025 National Commissioners.
Clark County’s journey has been an inspired one, and through the efforts of Superintendent Jara, the children in our nation’s fourth largest district are making remarkable gains, both personally and academically. Another journey that you’ll find inspirational is that of Dimitres Pantelidis, Principal at New York’s Public School 171.
Little boy with Drawing
Clark County’s journey has been an inspired one, and through the efforts of Superintendent Jara, the children in our nation’s fourth largest district are making remarkable gains, both personally and academically. Another journey that you’ll find inspirational is that of Dimitres Pantelidis, Principal at New York’s Public School 171.
The timing could not be more advantageous for this commission. With the changes experienced from the Coronavirus pandemic and the fact that education has lagged behind other sectors in transforming itself to meet the needs of a technological society, what is needed is a blueprint for change in public education. The recommendations produced by this AASA coalition, along with demonstration sites, will become a roadmap for the changes our children will need, as well as our children’s children.

There is an old saying here that I keep coming back to. If you don’t know the location of your harbor, no wind will take you there. Too often, we have made reactionary changes, placing the cart before the horse in a race that is much too important to lose. With the advent of this coalition, we’ll have the opportunity to get back on track and help our children advance — in equity, and in charge. The association’s picks to lead the effort, AASA Executive Director Dr. Dan Domenech (my own superintendent 35 years ago!) and my dear friend Dr. Bill Daggett, are exactly who we need to ask just the right probing questions.

Student and Teacher
It seems like yesterday that my team and I were sitting in a Zoom meeting, wondering what an Achieve Magazine might look like. It is hard to believe that we are already sharing our third issue with you, but here it is. One of the things we wanted to do with the new Achieve Magazine was to create a platform to share not only best practices, but to share voices that could inspire, create and reignite a passion in every educator. Clark County’s Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara is such a voice. In this issue of Achieve Magazine, the superintendent recounts the wonderful lessons learned from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. According to Jara, “The pandemic would mean increased stress for many of our students already vulnerable to the effects of unemployment, food insecurity, and other high-risk factors. Within this reality, I felt the pandemic could be an opportunity for my staff and our community to respond to these pre-existing issues with a fresh perspective. The old ways of doing things, that were not helping all children, have needed to change for some time. So, I challenged my staff to examine everything from grading and attendance policies to general course requirements. I knew we could not come back from this unchanged.”
Student working on assignements
There is an old saying here that I keep coming back to. If you don’t know the location of your harbor, no wind will take you there. Too often, we have made reactionary changes, placing the cart before the horse in a race that is much too important to lose.
Clark County’s journey has been an inspired one, and through the efforts of Superintendent Jara, the children in our nation’s fourth largest district are making remarkable gains, both personally and academically. Another journey that you’ll find inspirational is that of Dimitres Pantelidis, Principal at New York’s Public School 171. His school’s journey to a data-filled school culture has created a significant increase and improvement in teacher and student accountability. “Teachers can still focus on the same set of standards and concepts, but are also free to adjust the degree of complexity of curricula, without watering content down, according to student need,” says Principal Pantelidis. “Students are still provided objectives and expectations, but they are also empowered to use different platforms to apply their learning. Most importantly, thanks to the dedication and focus from our teachers, students are being met where they are, and are empowered and encouraged to produce meaningful work.”

Enjoy this issue of the magazine. All the stories included here exemplify the very spirit of education. You’ll read example after example of educator-heroes like you who have overcome enormous challenges to help their schools become more student-centered, equity focused and forward reaching. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Cover of magazine
The old ways of doing things, that were not helping all children, have needed to change for some time. So, I challenged my staff to examine everything from grading and attendance policies to general course requirements. I knew we could not come back from this unchanged.”
About the author
Stuart Udell currently serves as CEO of Achieve3000, a comprehensive suite of digital solutions that significantly accelerate literacy growth and deepen learning across the content areas. Prior, he served in CEO roles at K12, Catapult Learning, and Penn Foster, as well as president roles at Renaissance Learning, Kaplan, and the Princeton Review. Stuart currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Bill Daggett’s Successful Practices Network, the Learning 2025 National Commission, School of the Future, USA Test Prep, and Ventris Learning. He received the Education Warrior Award from the I Have a Dream Foundation and is a member of his High School Hall of Fame. Stuart holds a master’s from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from Bucknell University.