WES principal stays active in lead statewide roles

BY Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

As president of the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators, Windham Elementary School Principal Chris Mitten will represent the AAESA affiliate’s members on the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. Mitten is in his 13th year as an elementary school principal.“We are excited and privileged to welcome Chris Mitten to the CLAS Board of Directors,” said CLAS Executive Director Earl Franks. “His tremendous leadership qualities are evident as he was selected to serve as president of the AAESA affiliate. Servant leadership is vital to the success of our association and we sincerely appreciate Chris’s willingness to serve Alabama’s premier leadership organization as a representative of the AAESA on this prestigious board.”CLAS was founded in 1969 by a small group of school leaders to provide targeted professional development and support for Alabama’s public school administrators, according to a news release, and the organization provides the framework to connect dedicated school administrators and other successful leaders with a network for professional growth and support.Whether it is professional development, advocacy or legal support, Mitten said CLAS is important to the membership of all 10 umbrella affiliates—child nutrition to administration— that fall under the umbrella of the organization.“There’s a networking aspect of CLAS that, really, you can’t put a price tag on,” said Mitten. “…our field is constantly changing. One of the issues in education is that the whole education concept is one of an industrial age factory mentality. Having to move from that to preparing students for the Twenty-first Century, professional development is absolutely vital…Our students are not the same as they were when I first started teaching 19 years ago.“Their influences are different, the technology aspect is changing so quickly that we have to be able to adapt and keep up with these changes. We have to teach the students that we have, not the students that we wish we had or the students that we had 10 years ago…Being able to adapt and change and constantly grow and learn makes us better administrators and better teachers so we can better serve our students.”Mitten recently returned from the state conference in Montgomery at which he presented an inspirational message to 1,200 administrators at the opening session. He also attended a national conference in Washington, D.C. in July.“Basically, what I told them about (at the state conference) was my swimming career and the impact that my swim coach, through high school, had on me, as far as believing that I could achieve the Junior National Championships, and I did. Actually, he made me believe I could do it, but told me afterwards that he really didn’t think I could. But, he had made me believe that I could. So, we can inspire our students and teachers. We can help them to accomplish more than the students, themselves, think they can…We have to stop focusing on where our students come from and start worrying about where our students are going.”
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