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Editorial Offices: 1029 J St., Suite 500, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-3216 • Job ads: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org • News: e-mail email@example.com Attendees of the Every Child Counts conference were treated to an opening day presentation by Michael Hingson, a blind survivor of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, who with the help of his guide dog Roselle, escaped the building with several other people from the 78th floor. Hingson, a national ambassador for the Braille Literacy Campaign and author of the New York Times best-seller “Thunder Dog: The true story of a blind man, his guide dog & the triumph of trust,” offered an inspiring hour-long talk about his life, his survival on 9/11 and what he has learned over a lifetime of overcoming adversity. Since that day in September 2001, Hingson has made a career out of talking about his personal story and demonstrating that anyone can be a leader. He is clear that good leadership is all about teamwork. “With salespeople I hire, I, as the leader, am the second person on your team,” he said. “A good leader should be open to letting folks do their jobs and lead themselves. We hire people because they have talent, but if we don’t give them the opportunity to voice that then we won’t benefit from it.” Hingson also highlighted the need for self-reflection and trust as an essential part of any leadership work, saying, “Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. We can worry all day but it doesn’t do us any good… we have to focus on the things that we can affect.” He added that constantly evaluating ourselves as leaders, taking a step back and asking if we are being as effective as we can be, is vital for anyone in a leadership position. “Ask yourself,” he said, “is there something I could have done better?” In his talk, Hingson described the way he encouraged Roselle and the other folks on the stairs all the way down to the first floor. He talked about firefighters on their way up, stopping to pet her (a big no-no for guide dogs) and his thought that she may have been the last moment of unconditional love many of them received. Hingson described his thought process coming down the stairs as a practical one, designed to keep Roselle focused on the task at hand in order to keep her calm; an approach on which his survival depended. He applied that idea to school leaders, saying, “If I sounded nervous she would be worried about me and not focused on her job. I didn’t hide that the situation was dire but as the team leader I had to be supportive and encouraging. I’ve been contacted by people who said that they saw me going down the stairs and they said well, if you can do it we can do it. They followed.” As part of his work, Hingson focuses leaders on the lessons he has learned about trust and teamwork from working with guide dogs over the years. He is clear that while dogs may unconditionally love, they don’t unconditionally trust. According to Hingson, people are like that too. “We’ve been burned in so many ways,” he said. “Most people find it hard to trust. Trust is earned. We ought to be open to the idea of trust though. Can I earn this person’s trust or can I allow them to earn mine? Trust is all around us and we need to learn to be open to trusting people.” Hingson’s story is primarily one of triumph over adversity. Blind since infancy, he never let his different abilities interrupt his childhood. He loved to ride a bike and learned to read braille at an early age. With help from his parents who were vocal advocates for his education, he always found a way to learn and do anything he set his mind to. He credits a practical attitude with some of his success in this area. “I tell myself you’ve got to get over it,” he said. “You don’t want to give up the power that you have over your own life. I had to step back, realize where I did have control and do what I could. When things get bad you still had to take that step back, look at it objectively and say to yourself, I can get through this. It’s not that you can’t be afraid, just be aware.” Hingson also credits having a positive attitude with his ability to be a successful leader, but was careful to point out that such an attitude needed to come from a deep level. “I think people inherently react to folks who are genuinely positive,” he said. “I never made a big public thing about being motivational. Spouting out platitudes doesn’t do it. It’s a way of life…positivity has to be genuine.” In addition to advice on leadership, Hingson provided valuable insight to effective educational practices benefitting differently-abled students. He was quick to point out that the most important thing educators can do when working with students they perceive as disabled is to not make assumptions that students who are different are somehow “less-than”. He called this one of the main problems facing students today. ACSA Executive Director, Wesley Smith Senior Director, Communications/PIO, Naj Alikhan Senior Director, Educational Services, Barry Groves Chief Marketing Officer, Tatia Davenport Senior Directors, Governmental Relations, Edgar Zazueta and Adonai Mack Senior Director, Member Services, Margarita Cuizon Senior Director, Information Technology, Tony Baldwin EdCal Editor, London Roberts Assistant Editor/Reporter, Cary Rodda Advertising/Website Coordinator, Emily Senecal Communications Content Specialist, Darcy Totten ACSA CareerConnect Coordinator, Tracy Olmedo ACSA Board of Directors President, Ralph Gómez Porras President-elect, Lisa Gonzales Vice President, Holly Edds VP for Legislative Action, Linda Kaminski Past President, Tom Armelino Members: Eric Andrew, Mauricio Arellano, Randy Bangs, Angel Barrett, Ana Boyenga, Jonathon Brunson, Daryl Camp, Katherine Castleberry, Craig Helmstedter, Linda Hutcherson, Andrew Ishibashi, Darrien Johnson, Peter Johnson, Sue Kaiser, Jon LeDoux, Robert Martinez, Mary O’Neil Grace, Elsbeth Prigmore, Rob Stockberger, Roxanna Villaseñor, Craig Wheaton, Denise Wickham, Ron Williams “There is not one of us who doesn’t have unique abilities and skills,” Hingson said. “We can’t assume that people who are different than us are less than us. Don’t ask experts. Ask the people affected. It’s not an accident that the best agencies for the blind are run by blind people who are experts in their field.” Hingson referenced a 1978 statute that The Linked Learning Alliance has launched certification and analytics tools that recognize, incentivize, and support expansion of high quality Linked Learning pathways. During a recent event, Alliance President Christopher Cabaldon introduced these first-of-their-kind tools that will support the Linked Learning field’s goals of preparing all students for college, career, and life. Linked Learning Certification and Analytics are designed to support continuous improvement in pathways, help districts and schools to close achievement gaps, and drive equity in student preparation for success after high school. “By 2025, California will need to produce an additional 1 million career-ready college graduates to meet employers’ needs,” Cabaldon said. “Today, only 40 percent of California’s 2.2 million young adults hold an associate’s degree or higher, and many don’t have the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Research shows that when students experience quality Linked Learning they are more likely to graduate high school, earn more college preparatory credits, and students who had low achievement scores in earlier grades make significant progress. Certification and Analytics are tools that the Linked Learning field will use to ensuring many more students graduate ready to succeed in college, career, and life.” Linked Learning Certification Through Linked Learning Certification,the field will gain a clear standard of excellence, with shared standards, requirements, and definitions. The certification process allows districts and schools pathways to measure progress along a continuum of quality practices and student outcomes. The feedback from the system helps them identify what is working well and what aspects of Linked Learning implementation need improvement to better impact student success. Because Linked Learning Certification Braille Literacy Ambassador Michael Hingson and canine companion Africa shared the stage recently at the ACSA Every Child Counts Symposium. Hingson and his former guide dog Roselle made it out of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attack, climbing down the stairs from the 78th floor. Hingson said the key to leadership is to maintain your cool, and be supportive and encouraging to those around you. made it difficult if not impossible for a blind person to get life insurance. He talked about the history of advocacy based on real data and the legislation that this led to that changed laws impacting people in his situation. “The technology is better now…but peoples’ attitudes…not so much,” he said. “There is so much work still to do.” Linked Learning Alliance introduces certification and analytics tools indicates a high-quality pathway program, benefits are opened up to students in pathways that choose to participate in the certification system. For example, students in pathways that reach the candidate level are eligible to apply for a Linked Learning scholarship. In the future, qualified students in Linked Learning pathways that have achieved higher levels of certification will be eligible to benefit from preferences offered by employers and accelerated opportunities at postsecondary institutions. “The Linked Learning approach is not new for our district, but because of the proven impact it has on students, we are committed to continual improvement of our pathways and ensuring that more students experience high quality Linked Learning,” said Kent Pickering, head coordinator for the Technology and Digital Arts Academy at Elk Grove High School. Linked Learning Analytics Linked Learning Analytics is a data system that helps districts track pathway progress, demographics, and improvement in student outcomes, including college and career readiness indicators. Participating districts will have access to predictive analytics, performance dashboards, and a centralized platform. These tools make it possible for pathways, districts, and regions to track progress, reflect, and improve on pathway implementation. Seven trailblazer districts have formed a data collaborative to help inform key predictive indicators and dashboard and reporting priorities. These districts include Sacramento City, Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Long Beach unified school districts, as well as Oxnard Union HSD. Linked Learning involves collaboration between high school and postsecondary educators, employers and community leaders, and is a strategy for transforming education and regional economic development. For more information visit: https:// linkedlearning.org/certification-analytics/.