Arcadia Unified School District Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall
Dr. David Vannasdall has been Superintendent of the Arcadia Unified School District since July of 2014. He has proudly served the Arcadia community for more than a decade. Dr. Vannasdall first came to Arcadia in 2005 when he was named the Principal of Arcadia High School. Succeeding his seven years at the helm of the Apaches, he was promoted to Deputy Superintendent, Education Programs and Services in 2012. Before joining AUSD, Dr. Vannasdall was a principal in Ohio, and also served as an Assistant Principal, School Counselor, and Teacher.
Dr. Vannasdall is one of the foremost innovative Superintendents in the country, and has helped transform the Arcadia Unified School District into one of the most forward-thinking and successful school districts in the United States. The graduation rate for Arcadia High School is typically 99% or higher, with students matriculating to the most prestigious universities each year, including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and USC to name a few. In 2016, Arcadia High graduates were accepted into every Ivy League School in the country. Dr. Vannasdall was critical in helping pass a $216 million facilities improvement bond, and a $15 million parcel tax for AUSD. He led a successful 1:1 technology device rollout program for the district’s nearly 10,000 students who attend its eleven schools. Dr. Vannasdall also helped launch AUSD’s annual Arcadia Innovation Summit, which has become one of the leading professional development conferences for educators in California.
After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Social Studies from the University of Kentucky, Dr. Vannasdall later earned two Master of Arts Degrees, one in School Counseling from Xavier University, and one in Education Administration from the University of Cincinnati. He earned his Educational Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University in 2016.
A proud father of five, Christian, Chandler, Chloe, twins Max and Rosie, and the family dog Nittany, Dr. Vannasdall is married to Jessica who shares his passion for education as a Technology Coach and Teacher.
Contact: (626) 821-8300
Superintendent Back to School Letter to Staff 2016-2017
Dear AUSD Staff,
While going through some old files this summer, I came across something I wrote in 2006 at the request of then Superintendent Dr. Hennessy. She requested from each administrator a prepared written summary that described your job in seventy five words or less. As the principal of AHS, I wrote the following:
My job is about people. I value people and want them to achieve their potential. My tools are honesty, pressure, support, and compassion. Knowing when to use the right tool is the art of leadership. I sometimes push from behind and sometimes pull from the front, but always with the goal to get out of the way. People achieve more together and want to belong. Focusing all resources on student achievement makes the difference.
It has been over ten years since I wrote that statement and it is as relevant today as it was then. Regardless of the title, we are all in the people business. Roughly 84% of the annual operating budget is allocated to staff. Simply stated, our greatest asset in AUSD is you.
So what does that mean as we move forward? It means we must invest individually and collectively to challenging everything we do to ensure we are intentionally creating a trusting culture that encourages a growth mindset (Watch video here if you would like to learn more).
Learning is no longer tied to a place, space, or time. Adult learning, like student learning, is now accessable 24 hours a day and customized to individual learning styles. We continue to explore how that looks as we transition to personal learning for students and staff, and specifically what the vital role of teachers will be in this quickly approaching new environment of public education.
One thing I am absolutely confident of is that isolation is now a choice and not the norm. Because this work is too hard to accomplish alone, educators are reaching out across the globe to collaborate on all aspects of teaching and learning. Creating a professional network is an essential part of the job. Recruiting and hiring new staff now includes exploring the professional networks that candidates may bring with them to add value to AUSD.
No one can succeed alone anymore. A quote that I have seen used recently states, “Change is inevitable, adaptation and survival are optional.” We are in unprecedented times of rapid change and the only way to remain competitive for the students we have today is to create a culture that embraces agility, flexibility, collaboration and innovation. I am proud of our continued work on building a smart, healthy and innovative organization. Our accomplishments this past year confirm that we are a world-class TK-12 vertical team of professionals that is passionately committed to each and every student. I have personally witnessed an unprecedented level of professional collaboration throughout the organization that has directly resulted in greater learning for all students.
It was powerful for me to attend the 2nd Annual Arcadia Innovation Summit along with so many of you at the begining of the summer. It was great to see our own teachers and staff modeling this type of collaboration and innovation with educators from all over California. I was impressed at not only how many AUSD educators attended, but how many were presenting and leading sessions to share great lessons and teaching strategies with others. This growth mindset continued after the Arcadia Innovation Summit with our staff building and growing their Professional Learning Networks on Twitter with educators from all over the world. I’m proud to say we now have more than 200 AUSD staff using Twitter to learn and collaborate. This is no doubt a tremedous benefit to our students.
As I talked about last year, risk taking continues to be a priority as we accept the inherent requirement of personal vulnerability in order to build trusting relationships and a safe environment for failure. This past year we challenged ourselves with the theme of “What If…” What if we move toward the pain by recognizing that schools have mastered the art of explaining why we can’t do things: we are too small, we are too large; that will open the flood gates; we have always done it this way; we don’t have the money; “they” won’t let us; we tried that already and it didn’t work. What if instead we started asking ourselves were we willing to ask the right questions, and spend more time exploring the opportunity of asking “what if.” What if we gave ourselves permission to not have all the answers and just improve our ability to ask more questions? Asking what if is what led us to hosting the Arcadia Innovation Summit two years. When the organizer who was suppose to host the conference suddenly went out of business, the question was asked, “What if we hosted it?” The Arcadia Innovation Summit was the answer to that powerful question.
Building on our monumental work on “What if” and asking so many powerful questions that challenged our assumptions and traditional practices, we are ready to take the next step. The theme for this year is “Why Not.” Taking on this theme is only possible because you have modeled vulnerability throughout the organization. Although often difficult, identifying the hurdles and barriers across the district that impede our innovation must be recognized and resolved. I am confident we are well on our way through this journey and will continue to reflect, grow, and hold ourselves accountable as we move forward.
The field of public education continues to evolve and challenge all of us. As always, I’m confident you will recognize these challenges as oppotunities, and as chance to make a profound impact on our students. The world we are sending our students into each year is not the world we once knew. Let’s continue to impact the world by molding the leaders of tomorrow and making our world a better place for generations to come. Why not?
Thank you and welcome back!
David Vannasdall, Ed. D.