Becoming A Champion for Children with Dr. Dan Domenech

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Dustin Odham

Thought Leader for FranklinCovey Education
When I was a kid, my favorite Crayola color was sky blue, and my mission in life was to become a professional basketball player. I pursued that dream right up until I learned I was “not fast or quick, but determined and a great team player.” Yes, that was a real evaluation I was given during my AAU days. I decided to play to my strengths instead, and retired from the prep basketball scene with what I feel was a tasteful lack of fanfare. Since then, my mission statement has been to make a positive and lasting impact in the life of every person I meet. Every single day. I have spent my career trying to help unleash greatness in everyone I am privileged to work with and for. My commitment to that mission statement became more nuanced when I began teaching high school math at a school with a significant achievement gap. I was learning just as much as my students were, and there were certainly rough patches at the beginning. But in the end, our students outpaced the entire district in academic growth. Repurposing that childhood dream, I also coached girls basketball and regularly demonstrated that I had not, in fact, grown faster or quicker with age. It was during this period that I won St. Louis Region Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for a National Teacher of the Year award. As I continued to look for ways to make a positive and lasting impact on my community, I took a job as executive director of a teacher training program. My team increased our teacher pool from 75 to 200, impacting hundreds of schools and thousands of students. Then, as a turnaround specialist with St. Louis Public Schools, I helped create our Office of Innovation, enabling our lowest performing schools to get accredited. In the private sector, as a turnaround performance consultant, I led projects with district superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and teachers to help turn their student academic performance around and transform their school communities. It was also during this time that I really perfected my karaoke version of “Friends in Low Places.” I continued this work at FranklinCovey Education as a Client Partner, where our team partnered with educators to unleash the potential of thousands of administrators, teachers, and parents – impacting tens of thousands of students in hundreds of cities across three states. As a Managing Director for the Southeast United States and Canada regions, I now support our client partners as they work to do the same all across North America. This is a far cry from a career as an NBA superstar. But I’ve loved my life, and all the people in it – most especially my amazing wife Ashley and my three boys Luke, Noah, and our baby, James, who was born in the middle of the pandemic. Every twist and turn has led me here, and I am grateful for each of them. My favorite Crayola color is still sky blue, and I’ve finally found a sport (golf) that does not depend on speed or quickness. I hope this podcast is a force for lasting, positive change for the guests, and for anyone who tunes in. I’m honored that you’ve taken the time to tune in.

Dr. Dan Domenech

Executive Director at AASA, The School Superintendents Association
Daniel A. Domenech has served as executive director of the American Association of School Administrators since July 2008. Domenech has more than 36 years of experience in public education, twenty-seven of those years served as a school superintendent. Prior to joining AASA, Domenech served as senior vice president for National Urban Markets with McGraw-Hill Education. In this role, he was responsible for building strong relationships with large school districts nationwide. Prior to his position at McGraw-Hill, Domenech served for seven years as superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools, the 12th largest school system in the nation with 168,000 students. Domenech began his teaching career in New York City, where he taught sixth grade in a predominantly black and Hispanic community in South Jamaica, Queens. He then became program director for the Nassau Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which is the largest intermediate school district in the State of New York. Following this, he was first named superintendent of schools for Long Island’s Deer Park Schools and then became superintendent of schools for the ethnically diverse South Huntington School District, also on Long Island -- a position he held for 13 years. From 1994 to 1997, he was district superintendent of the Second Supervisory District of Suffolk County and chief executive officer of the Western Suffolk BOCES. Domenech, an AASA member since 1979, served as president of AASA from July 1998 to June 1999. He is also a past president of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the Suffolk County Superintendents Association, and the Suffolk County Organization for Promotion of Education. He was the first president and cofounder of the New York State Association for Bilingual Education. In addition, Domenech has served on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment Governing Board, the advisory board for the Department of Defense schools, the board of directors of the Association for the Advancement of International Education, the Board of Overseers for the Baldrige Award and the boards of the Institute for Educational Leadership, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Sea Research Foundation, and Education Policy Institute. Currently, he serves on the boards of the Learning First Alliance, National Student Clearinghouse, Center for Naval Analyses, Horace Mann Educators Corporation, ACT, USAC, and board chair for Communities in Schools of Virginia. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College in New York City and a Ph.D. from Hofstra University in Uniondale, N.Y.
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