GreenSummit grows in second year

September 4, 2008

When he organized last year's first GreenSummit on ASU's Tempe campus, Chris Samila never imagined that anyone but students would come, and perhaps residents of Tempe and Phoenix.

But they did come, and the summit was so successful that Samila, a student majoring in global studies and political science at ASU, has planned a second summit, set for Sept. 5-6 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Download Full Image

This year’s event, expected to attract over 10,000 people, showcases the latest innovations and ideas from renewable energy, to green building, green living, transportation, and more that will help make our world more sustainable.

The event will feature a keynote address by ASU President Michael Crow at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept 6.

“The goal of the summit goes beyond conserving paper,” Samila says. “It is designed to be a catalyst for change.

“Around the globe, massive changes are occurring. The need to become more in balance with our natural environment has catalyzed the growth of an exciting array of new innovations and opportunities, which you will learn about at the GreenSummit,” Samila says.

“The term ‘green’ has come to represent a common blueprint for citizens, businesses and governments for how we can move towards a more sustainable future. The GreenSummit is designed to greatly accelerate this movement.”

The GreenSummit will have a number of components this year. There will be a two-day conference for both professionals and consumers, offering more than 100 educational sessions, and an exhibition hall with more than 120 exhibitors with cutting-edge green products and services.

There also will be networking events, a green industry career fair and green building tours around the Valley.

Samila expects more than 10,000 people to attend, including a delegation from Eastern Europe that the U.S. Department of Commerce is bringing to showcase American innovations and ideas revolving around sustainability.

“This year, we have organized the Green Innovations Expo into 10 categories to help manage the expansive and complex idea of sustainability,” says Samila. “These categories help define the diverse variety of ideas, products and research in order to highlight how sustainability affects your personal and professional life.”

The categories include Green Building Design, Green Chemistry Materials, Business Products and Services, Renewable Energy, Transportation, Greener Computing, Fashion, and Beauty among others.

Samila says people often ask him how he has the time to produce such a large conference, in record speed, while he is still an undergraduate student.

“My answer is that I'm a ‘permanent senior’ at the moment. I hope this will be a permanent career for me.”

Samila says he already is planning to hold a GreenSummit in Atlanta next year, and he has his sights set on other cities in the United States.

“The GreenSummit has grown to the largest sustainability-focused event in state history – and one of the largest in the United States,” says Samila.

For the complete GreenSummit schedule and registration information go to">">, or send an e-mail to info">"> General Admission price is $20; Students can attend for $15.

ASU education alums earn ‘Circle of Honor’ recognition

September 5, 2008

Arizona State University’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL) is talking the talk and walking the walk, boosting its “Leadership in Making a Difference” reputation with a pair of state education honors recently awarded to college grads for their excellence in K-12 leadership.

Kris Vanica, principal at Dreaming Summit School in Litchfield Park, and Pam Sitton, who was principal at Black Mountain Elementary School in the Cave Creek School District before moving to the district level in Scottsdale in July, have been recognized as Circle of Honor recipients by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). Download Full Image

“Leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school,” says Rene Diaz, executive director of ADE’s Arizona Leadership Project. “It is difficult to have an effective school without an effective principal.

“Both these principals, Kris and Pam, have led their schools to sustained high scores under their leadership. They have provided exceptional service to their school communities. They know the importance of high expectations, accountability, follow-through, and compassion.”

The Circle of Honor program was started in 2006 by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and is designed to recognize the top one percent of principals in K-12 grade schools. In its first year, CTEL doctoral student Denise Donovan earned Circle of Honor recognition.

Suzanne Painter, associate professor and chair of CTEL graduate programs and professional development, chaired the initial Circle of Honor committee that was formed to assess what needed to be done to provide recognition for high-performing principals.

“Kris and Pam are key educational leaders who have made a difference by leading their schools to excellence in student achievement,” says Painter. “There is a great deal of difference-making that goes on in schools, and it due to the exemplary leaders and teachers like Kris and Pam.

“These awards are the result of a rigorous selection progress.”

Vanica, who received her master’s in administration and supervision at the West campus college in 1996, got her start in the Litchfield in 2003 when she was named planning principal for the Dreaming Summit school that was still on an architect’s drawing board. The school opened in 2004 and she has been the principal of the 900-student, K-5 campus since. Over the past three years, the school has improved its “Performing Plus” standing to “Highly Performing” under ADE’s Elementary Achievement Profile.

“Being hired as the planning principal was an incredible opportunity,” remembers Vanica, who lists the appointment as a career high point. “Then, to put together a team that worked with the architects and builders, ordered all the furniture and equipment, and hired every teacher, staff member and support personnel – and to see all this come true – was something you just can’t imagine.

“Now I have a responsibility to bring the best out in those I serve and to make a lasting difference. This includes helping teachers and staff find their own leadership skills and styles in order to positively impact student achievement.”

She credits much of her success to lessons learned at ASU.

“I had so many incredible teachers at the West campus,” she says. “They challenged my intellect and made me examine myself. I explored topics that were directly aligned to my degree, and the classes not only supported my career choice, but gave me the tools that were absolutely necessary for my becoming the very best leader for students, staff and the community.”

Sitton, meanwhile, joined the Scottsdale Unified School District on July 1 and is the executive director of elementary schools and excelling teaching and learning, overseeing the progress of 17 schools and their principals. She was the principal at Black Mountain Elementary School, a K-5 campus with 600 students, for seven years. Under Sitton’s leadership, during the past three years the school has improved it Elementary Achievement Profile from “Performing” to “Highly Performing” to “Excelling.”

“This recognition is really all about the school, the teachers in the classrooms, the parents, and our students,” Sitton, who received her education master’s at the West campus in 1998 and earned her doctorate from Capella University in 2006. “This is a collaboration, and that is what it has to be in order to realize continuing success. You must work with others to move ahead; I’ve had a wonderful team behind me with a dedication and the ability to positively impact many young lives.”

Sitton says she is “absolutely prepared” for her new assignment with the Scottsdale district, and she considers it a logical next step.

“I gained a lot of practical knowledge about what it takes to be a principal,” she says of her years at ASU. “There are facilities considerations, budget considerations and more that take place outside the classroom, as well as the learning focus, that demand your attention as a principal.

“After I graduated from the West campus, I was immediately hired as an assistant principal in the Madison School District. I served for one year in that capacity and two years as the principal, and I felt like I had been well-prepared for the responsibility that came with the positions.”

Vanica and Sitton were presented their Circle of Honor awards at a ceremony in Tucson.

The College of Teacher Education and Leadership, through collaboration with educational and civic communities, prepares and inspires innovative educators to be leaders who apply evidence-based knowledge that positively impacts students, families, and the community. Visit">">

Steve Des Georges