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Digital Transformation and Innovation in Rural School Districts: Leadership Strategies for Success

Monday, June 14, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

Digital Transformation and Innovation in Rural School Districts: Leadership Strategies for Success

Presented by Dr. Peter Aiken, Superintendent, Manheim Central School District (PA); Dr. Amy Carter, Superintendent, Meridian Public School District (MS); Dr. Matthew Dillon, Superintendent, Petal School District (MS); and Dan Leffingwell, Superintendent, Noble Local School District (OH)
Moderated by Ann McMullan, Project Director, EmpowerED Superintendent Initiative, CoSN (Consortium for School Networking)

Sponsored by ClassLink
This edWebinar series is co-hosted by CoSN, AASA, and

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 Closed captioning will be added to the recording within 2 weeks of the live presentation.
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More than half of the school districts and about one-third of public schools in the United States are situated in rural areas. Rural districts have unique challenges, ranging from poverty and sizeable travel distances to a lack of affordable, reliable and robust internet access. However, since rural school districts tend to have smaller student populations, they can also leverage unique opportunities. Rural districts may be nimbler when it comes to dealing with change and frequently have strong community involvement. Teacher retention can also be comparatively strong.

Watch the conversation with four rural school district superintendents as they discuss the challenges and opportunities that are unique to rural school districts when leading digital transformations that change how teachers teach and students learn, as well as impact the way school districts operate. Each superintendent also shares the leadership strategies and technology tools they have implemented during the past year in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic to assure that all students in their districts continue learning. Plans for how the schools in these rural school districts will operate during the 2021-2022 school year will also be reviewed.

This recorded edWebinar will be of particular value to school superintendents, K-12 school and district leaders, and aspiring leaders.


Peter AikenAbout the Presenters

Dr. Peter Aiken is currently the superintendent of Manheim Central School District. He is passionate about preparing students for a world that gets crazier by the day. Dr. Aiken began his teaching career in Norfolk, VA as a reading teacher. He returned to Pittsburgh as a high school English teacher. On his way to becoming a superintendent of schools, he has served and garnered tremendous leadership lessons as an assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. Dr. Aiken’s core leadership tenet is everything rises and falls on relationships. Originally from Oakmont, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Dr. Aiken now resides in Lancaster, PA, with his wife and three kids. He is an avid reader, often found running and ruminating after a great read. You are invited to connect with him on Twitter and share your favorite leadership book at @pj_aiken. You can also read his leadership blog at


Amy Carter

Dr. Amy Carter is Superintendent of Meridian Public School District, Mississippi. Dr. Carter has a long history of service in Meridian Public School District, having worked there since 1994. Over the years, Dr. Carter’s multiple roles in the district included classroom teacher, building-level administrator, and a number of district-level administrative positions, including Assistant Superintendent of Accountability, Operations, Student Services and Title IX Coordinator.

Currently, Dr. Carter serves as the president of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. She is also on the board of PREPS (Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools) headquartered at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Dr. Carter has been honored as the Administrator of the Year by the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education for making a difference in arts education in both school and community. The PREPS organization recently honored Dr. Carter with their Dan Merritt Courage Award.


Matthew DillonDr. Matthew Dillon is a native of Columbia, Mississippi. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Southern Mississippi in elementary education. He received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. from The University of Mississippi in educational leadership. Dr. Dillon has taught in elementary and junior high schools and coached on the high school level. He has served as Principal at the secondary level as well as Assistant Superintendent. Currently, he is in his seventh school year as Superintendent of Schools for the Petal School District.

Dr. Dillon is Past President of the Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA). Currently, he serves as Chairman of the Eastern States Consortium and carries duties as a governing board member of AASA. Most recently, he was named the 2021 State Superintendent of the Year for Mississippi. Dr. Dillon resides in Petal with his wife and three children.


Dan LeffingwellDan Leffingwell is Superintendent of Noble Local School District, in Sarahsville, Ohio. During his time in this role, he has created an atmosphere of continuous improvement within the district while increasing opportunities for students. ALL students have access and are engaged in robust STEM activities, preparing them for a career of their choice.

During his 33-year education career, Dan has served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent, providing an experienced perspective on district operations. Dan is an active member of CORAS (Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools) and Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, serves as Director of OSRC (Ohio Small Rural Collaborative), JASON Learning STEM Consortium, and SOAR Collaborative, and also serves as Board President on the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Control and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. Dan graduated from Marietta College with a BA in English (1988) and earned his MA in educational leadership from Ohio University in 2000.


Ann McMullanAbout the Host

Ann McMullan is Project Director for CoSN’s EmpowerED Superintendents Initiative. Ann served as Executive Director for Educational Technology in Klein ISD, near Houston, Texas until September 2013, when she and her family moved to Los Angeles, California. For 16 years Ann led the district team that provided professional development on technology and 21st century instructional strategies to 4,000 educators serving 50,000 students. She was co-chair of the Texas Education Technology Advisory Committee which developed the Texas Long Range Plan for Technology.

Today, Ann works as a public speaker, writer, and education consultant focused on leadership to meet the needs of today’s students. Ann serves on the Advisory Board, ClassLink’s Senior Advisors Group, and is a founding member of ERDI’s Alliance for Education Impact Advisory Council. She also volunteers as a leadership consultant with Executive Service Corps of Southern California, serving non-profit associations. Ann is the co-author of Life Lessons in Leadership, available on


Closed captioning will be added to the recording within 2 weeks of the live presentation.

Join the Super-Connected community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.

AASAAASA is the premier association for school system leaders and serves as the national voice for public education and district leadership on Capitol Hill.


CoSN CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community, best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.


ClassLinkClassLink empowers your students and teachers with instant access to their learning resources. ClassLink® OneClick® includes a library of over 5,000 single sign-on apps and instant links to file folders at school and on Google, Office 365, and Dropbox cloud drives. ClassLink Roster Server easily and securely delivers class rosters to any publisher using open technology standards. ClassLink Analytics gives decision makers the usage data they need. Accessible from any computer, tablet or smartphone, ClassLink is ideal for 1to1 and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives.



Monday, June 14, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
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