For the first time in 14 years, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, will have a new leader, as longtime executive director Daniel Domenech retires and a trusted colleague steps in to take over.
When Domenech retires in February, former AASA President David Schuler will step in as executive director, the organization announced this week. Domenech has been in the role since July 2008.
Schuler is currently the superintendent in Arlington Heights, Ill., where he has built a reputation for advancing college- and career-readiness initiatives. He was named the 2018 National Superintendent of the Year.
Schuler was the president of AASA’s executive committee in 2015-16, and served on the committee from 2011-2017.
“Being a superintendent represents an opportunity to ensure that no child in our country is marginalized. All of us in public education have the chance to inspire new dreams in the minds of our students to imagine the possibilities beyond high school graduation,” Schuler said in a statement.
“As we continue to reshape America’s public education agenda, I am honored and humbled to have been selected to lead AASA, an organization that has become the standard-bearer for strengthening school system leadership while celebrating and embracing the magnificent achievements occurring in our school communities on a day-in, day-out basis,” he said.
Schuler will join the Arlington, Va.-based organization Jan. 1 as “executive director designate” and work briefly with Domenech before he exits Feb. 24.
‘This is my time’
The AASA is a professional organization with more than 13,000 members from districts across the country, and is also one of the most influential in K-12 circles. It is active in federal lobbying on education funding and policy, runs training programs for members, and has created networks for districts to share school improvement ideas.
As a superintendent, Schuler helped stand up a career readiness center with hundreds of partners and work-based learning experiences, according to the release from AASA.
For AASA, Schuler started the “Redefining Ready” initiative in 2017, which aims to introduce new research-based metrics to assess students’ college and career readiness, the organization said.
Domenech said Schuler’s experience with the organization will be helpful in navigating the transition. His drive and desire to be “innovative” and “on the cutting edge of new developments” makes him a “perfect fit for the job,” Domenech said.
“I’m delighted and looking forward to beginning the process of the transition with him because I know that he will hit the ground running and move the organization forward,” Domenech said in an interview. “I’m proud of the work that we have done in the time that I’ve been here, but there’s still plenty of room to improve and to grow, and and I think he’s the perfect person to do that.”
Even though he’s retiring after 55 years working in the education sector, Domenech said he plans to stay involved “however I can.”
“It’s been quite the ride, and it’s been one that I’ve enjoyed immensely,” Domenech said. “But there comes a time when you know it’s time to step out, and this is my time.”
Over the past three years, as COVID-19 has upended public education, some in the community have lost sight of the value of schools, teachers, and administrators to students, Domenech said. He hopes that won’t continue.
“Let’s come together,” he said, “to create the kind of equity and programs that all of our kids need.”