The Principals' Office Blog

Principals Star in Fall PBS Film

Take a break from your normal routine tonight and watch The Principal Story, a PBS documentary that chronicles the challenges principals face in turning around low-performing public schools and raising student achievement. Supported by The Wallace Foundation in partnership with NAESP, the show will air on PBS stations tonight; check local listings at
You can record this documentary to show in your school or you can borrow the film for free by registering at
Here are tips on how to use the documentary to tell your story, including discussion prompts to use with students, community members, principals and other educators, and the media.

Top 10 for 2010 in Houston

Never been to a convention in Houston? No problem. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should make a beeline to NAESP’s 89th Annual Convention and Exposition, which is being held in Houston, April 8-11, 2010.

  1. NAESP’s convention is the choice meeting for pre-K-8 principals to learn, share, and get re-energized. Nowhere else will you find thousands of like-minded leaders who are committed to making our nation’s schools better.
  2. Houston is a world-class city, the fourth largest in the United States, with a robust economy, diverse population, and thriving cultural scene.
  3. The convention features top notch general session speakers: Christopher Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happyness; Marlee Matlin, award-winning actress and advocate for the disabled; and Greg Mortenson, co-author of the New York Times best-seller Three Cups of Tea.
  4. Enriching professional development in the form of 3-hour workshops and pre-convention workshops can earn you valuable PDUs. 
  5. Concurrent sessions on topics that will help you lead effective learning communities.
  6. The Bayou City is known for its eclectic mix of cuisines. Prepare to loosen your belts as you dine on barbecue, Tex-Mex, soul food, Gulf Coast seafood, Cajun and Creole favorites, and a Texas steak.
  7. Space Center Houston welcomes visitors interested in exploring the nation’s space flight activities.
  8. Get a little sun at Galveston Beach, less than an hour away.
  9. Make a lasting impression on Houston schools by participating in NAESP’s Service Day.
  10. You can save on convention registration and housing with early bird rates—Offer Ends Sept. 30 Use the $100 you’ll save to bring another team member. Teams of three or more members register for just $130 per person!

Visit to register and to learn more about the latest happenings before, during, and after the convention. You don’t want to miss this dynamic event that has been developed just for you.

Seclusion and Restraint Practices Under Scrutiny

A U.S. Government Accountability Office study on the use of seclusion and restraint in schools reported hundreds of allegations that children have been abused, and some even died, as a result of inappropriate uses of these practices. Further, the GAO study claimed that the practices were used disproportionately on children with disabilities.
To provide additional insight to principals, Principal featured an article summarizing key points and recommendations made by the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders about proper use of seclusion and restraint practices to help students who have lost control and are endangering themselves, other students, teachers, and staff.
How do you handle these situations at your school? What do you think of seclusion and restraint policies and practices?

Ambiguity in the Assistant Principal’s Office

In the Speaking Out article published in the September/October issue of Principal magazine, author Tamera Moore, an assistant principal in North Carolina, raises concerns about the inconsistency of the assistant principal’s role from one school to another. “I believe establishing more uniformity among our positions, especially within the same district, would increase productivity and establish more consistent norms,” Moore writes.
Is this feasible given the differences between the needs of various schools? What are the specific responsibilities of the assistant principal in your school? It would be interesting to read your responses about how the role differs from school to school and state to state.

Is the Economy Affecting Your Students and Staff?

In the September/October issue of Principal magazine, we asked principals to respond to the following My Two Cents question: How has the recession affected your students and staff in your school. Here are a few responses we received:
Teachers and support staff are feeling the effects of the recession and are looking at additional ways to earn income to make ends meet. Last year, we had more teacher applicants for the summer school program than any previous three years combined. Students, on the other hand, have been affected as their parents/guardians are faced with cutbacks and, ultimately, layoffs. We noticed an increase in outbursts that were not as significant at the start of last school year, possibly due to the added stresses in the home environment.
Robb Malay, PrincipalMachananao Elementary SchoolYigo, Guam
Recession impacts everyone—schools as well as businesses. As one would expect, we see more multifamily homes and increases in free and reduced-price lunches. Enrichment activities, such as field trips, are being limited or eliminated. Teachers are also impacted, as teaching positions have been eliminated due to budget cuts resulting in class size increases, which impacts student achievement.
Phyllis Jones, PrincipalBaker Elementary SchoolAcworth, Georgia
Have you noticed a change in your faculty and students that can be attributed to the current state of the economy?

Back to School

The beginning of the school year marks the end of our summer hiatus on the Principals’ Office, so as you prepare for the new year we are standing by to begin discussions on such topics as restraint and seclusion, H1N1 flu, NAESP’s new initiatives, the issues that keep principals up at night, and much more. We also plan to launch a new blog series featuring NAESP President Diane Cargile.
Stay tuned!

The NAESP Election Results Are In!

Congratulations to the principals who were elected to the NAESP Board of Directors in this year’s election:
President-elect: Barbara Chester, Cherry Park Elementary School, Portland, Oregon
Zone 5 Director: John Ansman, Roberta Tully Elementary School, Louisville, Kentucky
Zone 7 Director: Kenny Jones, Parkside Elementary School, Powell, Wyoming
Zone 9 Director: Dwight Liddiard, East Meadows Elementary School, Spanish Fork, Utah
The 2009-2010 board will begin its term July 1, with Diane Cargile of Rio Grande Elementary School in Terre Haute, Indiana, as president.

Learn from the Veterans or Mentor the Next Generation

The best advice that a new principal can receive is from another experienced principal. NAESP offers two mentoring opportunities so that novice and veteran principals can connect. Experienced principals can increase leadership capacity and share knowledge and skills with principals who are newer to the profession by undergoing training through the National Principal Mentoring Certification Program. Upcoming mentor training dates are June 17-19 in St. Paul, MN and June 24-26 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
On the other side of the mentoring coin, if you are a principal within the first three years of your career and are interested in advice and suggestions from principals around the country, then you should apply to be the Mentor Center’s beneficiary for the next school year. To be considered, send an e-mail to Vanessa St. Gerard at In the message, write a few sentences about your school and why you would like to participate. Applications are due by May 31. To see how Mentor Center works, go to

Swine Flu Worries

In response to the rising number of cases of swine flu (H1N1 virus) that have affected numerous U.S. schools, NAESP created a flu prevention page on its Web site. On it you will find a special edition of Report to Parents titled “Key Facts About Swine Flu,” printed in both English and Spanish, that principals can distribute to their parents. Also on the page is a link to the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site that offers guidance to school leaders about the H1N1 virus, a Communicator article titled “Principals Urged to Plan for Possible Flu Pandemic,” updated reports about federal action taking place on Capitol Hill, and additional valuable resources.
As of Monday, the Associated Press reports that up to 330,000 students nationwide have missed school as a result of closings related to the H1N1 virus. Tell us how probable and/or confirmed swine flu cases have affected schools in your district.

What Does It Take to Become a Principal?

The May/June issue of Principal magazine includes a Speaking Out article that reveals the type of preparation the author believes a teacher needs to become a principal.
The author insists that aspiring principals should “earn their stripes” as successful teachers before becoming school administrators, and that extensive teaching experience is a requisite for effective instructional leadership. “How principals acquire the skills they need to become accomplished leaders is dependent on their experiences as teachers,” the author wrote.
Do you agree? How many years of teaching do you feel are appropriate?

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