Jeans & Jerseys, a fundraiser for the NAESP Foundation, was a success! The event, held at Baltimore's Center Club on Wednesday, July 10, raised $20,000 for student leadership programs. A similar event is being planned for the 2014 NAESP Conference in Nashville.

Here, blogger Kimberlyn Pratesi provides a principal's perspective on the event.

Different Jerseys, Same Team

By Kimberlyn Pratesi

Imagine the scene: St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs fans sharing light fare at the same table. Loyal followers of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers dancing side by side to the Electric Slide. And, yes, supporters of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers engaging in friendly dialogue as they bid on silent auction items.

No, this wasn’t an annual gala for ESPN or Sports Illustrated. It was the kickoff event for this year’s NAESP Annual Conference in Baltimore. Several colleagues and I joined principals from across the country for Jeans & Jerseys. Proceeds from the celebration supported the NAESP Foundation.

As I’ve observed at past NAESP conference events, the level of energy and enthusiasm that fills a room when committed educators unite for professional learning and networking is amazing. Although principals exchanged playful “smack talk” rooted in team loyalties, one thing was clear: This group unites when it comes to supporting the education of children.

One of the highlights of the evening was hearing about how principals used that energy and unity to impact the local community here during Community Service Day. On Wednesday, principals built an inclusive playground for John Ruhrah Elementary school in Baltimore. This act reminded me of the shared responsibility that we hold for the students we serve. They are all “our” children, regardless of where they live and where we come from.

The role of principal can be daunting, but it is comforting to know that others wearing the same hat—or jersey, as the case may be—can support us throughout our journey. The NAESP Annual Conference provides the perfect venue for such collaboration, and I look forward to the days ahead.

Maryland principal Kimberlyn Pratesi, a longtime member of NAESP and Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals, is blogging from the NAESP Annual Conference in Baltimore. See more conference updates at Conference News Online

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