I want to begin today by putting in a plug for the staff at NAESP. I sat in the staff’s headquarters office for a little while on Friday as I waited to talk to one of the staff members. I have to tell you that there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than one could ever imagine. I won’t mention names because I am sure I would leave someone out, but Kudos to all of the NAESP staff for their hard work in making the national convention the success it is each year!
I began my day yesterday with the second General Session. Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) was the speaker. He is the founder of America’s Promise Alliance, which is an organization that partners with nearly 250 other organizations to provide wraparound support so that children can stay in school and succeed. Although he spoke highly of public education in general, he did point out the alarming rate at which minorities are dropping out of high school. He stated: “kids start dropping out at first and second grade,” and “kids who are behind act like they are behind.” One of my favorite statements he made spoke of the need for more family involvement. “Kids need more lap-top time, and I don’t mean the computer kind,” said Powell. A kid coming to kindergarten knowing how to behave is a skill that could be taught during lap-top time.
In my opinion, the most crucial idea that Colin Powell shared is the importance for what he calls “An Expectation of Success.” He stated that dropping out of school was never an option when he was going through school and there was no choice whether or not he would attend college. His fear is that many of our children have lost the hope that they can be successful. I know that I have told my staff on more than one occasion that in some instances, they are the one adult in some of their student’s lives to encourage and exhibit high expectations.
The second stop for my day was the Zone 7 meeting, which was led by Zone 7 Director Rob Munson-SD. Although there were very good concurrent sessions being offered during this time slot, I felt it was more important to attend this meeting because it is the best place to find out what is happening at the national level and it is an excellent opportunity to share concerns and ideas that are then brought back to the NAESP Board of Directors. At this meeting, we also were introduced to our national candidates and talked about important topics such as electronic voting for the national election, possible changes to the time that the national convention may take place, and the possibility of having a Zone 7 booth at national convention instead of individual state booths.
The State Editors’ meeting is always one of my favorite meetings at the national convention. We are a close knit group, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our publications and to help each other. I would encourage anyone that has publication duties for their state to contact me so that I can share the support options that are available to you. I would like to thank Deborah Bongiorno (NAESP) for attending the meeting and for her promise of support for our group.   
The national convention experience does not end with the last concurrent session of each day. Many zones and states take time to meet in a social setting during the convention. Last night, I was privileged to meet with the elementary principals from North Dakota for supper. You would think that we see each other all the time, but there are several that I only see a few times a year. After supper, we took in the ice cream social and karaoke party put on by NAESP. There is a rumor going around that a certain blogger from NAESP was the man at the head of the conga line. I'm not quite sure how that happened.
I would love to hear your comments or suggestions about what other convention events you are interested in hearing about!