From Large District Leadership to International Influence
Training educators on administration, instruction, and advocacy
by Dr. Rod Berger
As the superintendent of the Palm Beach County School District, Dr. Robert Avossa was responsible for educating more than 200,000 students. In his new role, he has the opportunity to have an impact on even more kids, through the tens of thousands of educators he will reach with high-quality professional development. Avossa is now the Senior Vice President and Publisher for Education Content with LRP Publications, where he has an international platform to influence education. I sat down with him recently to talk about his new job and his life’s mission. “My goal has always been to advocate and influence as many people as possible to help kids,” Avossa says.
“LRP is the number one provider of special education, information, advocacy, and legal assistance,” Avossa says. “Not only will I be a policy presence and support but I get to help train superintendents from across the nation, which I'm super excited about.” Avossa is the overall leader of LRP’s education products and oversees content for the Future of Education Technology Conference. FETC 2019 will be held January 27th through 30th in Orlando, Florida.
Dr. Avossa believes that we need to have more leadership at the table, with educators and business partners collaborating to make education work. “It's not just about what you can buy,” he says. “I see people using technology like AI and 3D Printing and virtual reality in the classroom, but how do I actually use those tools in a meaningful way and make sure my kids are learning? That’s where the business partnerships through FETC come in.”
As the former superintendent of one of the largest school districts in America, Avossa acknowledges that he always kept himself at arm's length with the procurement process. But in terms of working with big partners, once that procurement occurs, he states that it's important for any leader to participate, push back and ask a lot of questions. It’s about relationships, after all. “We're trying to solve a problem here, and that is improving student achievement,” he says. “It's not about trying to get rid of teaching positions and save money. This is about investing in education.” And the partnerships with these companies through FETC are just that: an investment of time, money and expertise by everyone involved.
“I'm back to being a teacher because I'm teaching superintendents now. I'm teaching directors and others who are hungry to learn. It's exciting because at the end of the day, no matter who you are, you just never stop learning.”
About Dr. Robert Avossa
Dr. Robert Avossa is the Sr. Vice President and Publisher of Education Products, LRP Publications. After 25 years in public education, Robert Avossa joined LRP in Palm Beach Gardens in April, 2018. Dr. Avossa's portfolio includes, District Administration (DA) magazine and DA Leadership Institute, University Business magazine and conference, Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC), National Special Education Institute, and all the books, trainings, newsletters that are produced for educators.
Robert Avossa was School Superintendent of Palm Beach County for three years. The District was the 10th in the country with a student enrollment of approximately 200,000 students. The annual budget exceeds $2.6 billion and the District is the largest employer in Palm Beach County with over 21,000 employees.
Prior to joining the Palm Beach County Schools, Avossa served as Superintendent of the Fulton County for 4 years. Avossa was responsible for 96,000 students, 101 schools, 14,000 employees, and a $1.4 billion budget.
Under Avossa’s 7 years at the helm, both Palm Beach and Fulton County Schools achieved dramatic academic gains, earning each District the highest graduation rate in both Florida and Georgia’s large school systems.
Avossa served 5 years as an executive leader for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, and 10 years as a teacher and principal in Florida. Follow Dr. Robert Avossa on Twitter
For nearly 40 years, the Future of Education Technology Conference has gathered the most dynamic and creative education professionals from around the world for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues. Its impact has been felt by thousands of districts, schools, educators — and ultimately students.
Each year, FETC is tailored to the needs of an increasingly technology-driven education community — and 2019 will be no exception. The 39th National Future of Education Technology Conference features industry experts and unrivaled agenda content, an Expo Hall filled with the latest and greatest solutions, and a community of thousands eager to network with like-minded peers.
Your colleagues at FETC may come with different experiences and expertise, but they share your challenges and goals. School and district administrators, classroom teachers, IT professionals, special education directors, curriculum and media specialists, and other educators with roles or interest in ed tech, attend FETC year after year to find the professional learning, technology solutions and connections they need to transform learning in and out of the classroom. Join them for four days of collaboration, innovation and learning, and discover new ways to spark change with technology. Registration is here.
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