The Principals' Office Blog

It’s Been a Great Year!!

In addition to covering what’s new at NAESP, this year’s Principals’ Office blog has engaged in topics such as the federal budget, principal pay, diversity, mentoring, instructional leadership, and NCLB.

To coincide with the end of the school year, the Principals’ Office editors are taking a summer hiatus. But feel free to peruse the archives and make sure to check back in the fall for new posts and series.

Principal Offers to Take a Serious Pay Cut

According to a recent The Miami Herald, principal Larry Feldman recently decided to postpone his retirement and offer his services to the cash-strapped Miami-Dade School District for an annual salary of $1 plus benefits.(Now that's what you call commitment.) The district declined Feldman’s proposition because it would be too difficult to replace him, considering his budgeted $1 salary, should he decide to leave before the year was over. Still, some parents have launched an e-mail campaign, and are considering a petition in favor of the popular principal's offer. Stay tuned.

The Talented and Gifted Child

Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews recently addressed the issue of how public schools can best serve talented and gifted children. He published a number of insightful reader comments from parents and educators that illuminate the concerns of helping these students reach their highest potentials. One reader suggested that parents should home school gifted children. What do you think? Can public schools accommodate gifted children?

The May/June 2009 issue of Principal will be dedicated to talented and gifted children, focusing on what schools are doing to support these students and, in the wake of No Child Left Behind, whether or not schools are meeting their needs. For information about how to submit an article about this or other topics, visit the Principal Web page.

Make a Difference in the Principalship

The School Leadership Grant program helps local districts develop, enhance, or expand programs to recruit, train, and retain principals. The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) is seeking peer reviewers for the School Leadership Grant program. No travel is required and reviewers will receive an honorarium. For more information, visit The deadline to apply to be a reviewer is May 4.

Tomorrow’s Leaders

NAESP's executive director Gail Connelly announced the launch of the National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS) at the Opening General Session during NAESP's annual convention. Connelly was joined onstage for the announcement of this new program by Gerald Tirozzi, the executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Connelly and Tirozzi presented the first NEHS charter to Shepardson Elementary School, where NAESP President Mary Kay Sommers is principal.

"Whole child development is imperative for our schools to be successful," said Connelly. "The National Elementary Honor Society is a great way for schools to focus on this development and to recognize our young students for their accomplishments in leadership and service. We are excited about providing schools with the opportunity to participate in such a prestigious program and to help develop our nation's future leaders."

NASSP administers the National Honor Society™ (NHS) and the National Junior Honor Society™ (NJHS) and the NEHS was created to help schools give students in grades 4-6 national recognition for their accomplishments.

"The National Honor Society and the National Junior Honor Society have done a tremendous job of giving outstanding students the recognition they deserve for excellence in some of the most important aspects of their lives," said Tirozzi. "We are confident that the National Elementary Honor Society will enrich the education and the educational experience of younger students as well."

Incidentally, a study commissioned by the Girl Scouts of the USA found that young people ranked "being a leader" behind other goals such as "fitting in," "making a lot of money" and "helping animals or the environment." The results were published in a recent issue of The Washington Post. What do you think? How important is it for students to see themselves as leaders? How do these findings measure up to the leadership potential among students at your school? What can schools do to increase leadership skills in their students?

The Courage of Educational Leaders

Have you read the Speaking Out article from the newly released May/June issue of Principal magazine? In it, author Mike Connolly argues that principals should be more forthright and talk more openly with their colleagues about the tests of courage they’ve had to face. “It is not hubristic to recognize and celebrate courage in education; it is inspirational,” Connolly writes.

Why don’t many school leaders recognize and celebrate more often the courage demonstrated by their colleagues? Is courage truly an important quality principals should have? Let us know what you think. Do you agree or disagree with Connolly?

We’re Back!

The Principals’ Office took a brief hiatus during this year’s annual convention and exposition in Nashville. We had a terrific time meeting and talking with principals from across the country and abroad. If you haven’t done so already, please check out NAESP’s Convention News Online ( to read some terrific articles on convention speakers and events, posts from guest blogger David Hanson (from North Dakota), and to browse through a photo gallery of convention attendees and speakers.  NAESP's 88th Annual Convention and Exposition, April 2-6, 2009, will be the place for principals to start building everything from learning communities to neighborhood communities in New Orleans. You can find out more info about next year's convention at

Countdown to Convention

It’s true what they say—time really does fly when you’re having fun. Here at headquarters, we’re all having fun gearing up for NAESP’s 87th Annual Convention & Exposition in Nashville, which is less than one week away.

What should you do now to ensure that you get the best out of Convention? Use the Convention itinerary tracker to plan your schedule before you arrive. You can find sessions on topics ranging from school policies, teacher recruitment, meeting AYP, or bully prevention by going to the Convention Web page and clicking on the Itinerary Planner on the left side of the screen. The planner allows you to search for sessions by track, speaker, or format.

Pay Teachers More than Principals?

A New York City charter school set to open in 2009 plans to pay its teachers $125,000, while the principal’s starting salary will be $90,000, according to The New York Times. The school’s creator and first principal, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, believes that teacher quality—not accomplished principals or the latest technology—makes a school successful.

Ernest A. Logan, president of the city principals’ union, called the idea of paying the principal less than the teachers “the craziest think I’ve ever heard. ... If you cheapen the role of the school leader, you’re going to have anarchy and chaos.”

All eyes will be on the school when it opens to see if Vanderhoek’s experiment of paying teachers nearly 2.5 times the national average teacher salary—and apparently trivializing the role of principals—will actually work. What do you think?

Engage in Conversations About Diversity During NAESP's Convention

In addition to an impressive list of keynote speakers, author presenters, and concurrent sessions, this year’s convention will feature special events for NAESP’s Diversity Program, a series of special sessions that will focus on the needs of principals serving largely minority student populations in urban schools.

Eric Brown is the featured speaker for the Minority Networking Session, Mentoring African American Males for the 21st Century (Sunday, April 6, 9-11:00 a.m.). The Principals’ Office recently had the opportunity to talk with Brown about leading minority students to their highest potential. Brown is the co-founder of a program in Rock Hill, South Carolina that is tailored to meet the needs of black males. He is also the principal of Killian Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina.

What is the biggest challenge for leaders of schools that have predominantly minority student populations?

Brown: The biggest challenge is that we can’t change the situations that our children face each and every day. We can’t change what society thinks of them, nor can we change the circumstances or conditions that they are exposed to. However, it is my belief that no matter what obstacles they face, it is our job as principals, teachers etc. to ensure that the children who come to us get our very best each and every day. Children don’t get to choose their parents or the situations they face. Principals, however, have the resources, education, and hopefully the determination to make a difference in the lives of these children.

Why is the mentoring process important to the academic success of black male students?

Brown: The mentoring process is key because society and the media have painted a picture of black males as only being able to effectively exist as athletes, singers, etc. Black males, however, have many more talents than that. Exposing young black males to the careers and opportunities that exist for them will help dispel the myths that are associated with them only being proficient in areas that do not require a good education.

What do principals need to know and be able to do in order to be effective leaders of schools serving minority populations?

Brown: In order to effectively serve as a leader of a minority school, principals must have passion for what they do. They must commit to doing whatever is necessary to successfully educate the children in their school. They need to be innovative and have vision. They also need to identify and hire teachers who buy into the vision that all children can learn. Principals must commit to creating an environment where “excellence is the expectation” and they must never stop holding every teacher and child in their school accountable for teaching and learning.

Visit the convention Web site for more information about the Minority Networking Session and the other Diversity Program events: the Competent Culturally Proficient Administrator Workshop; the First Annual Diversity Reception; and the Diversity Forum, led by former Nashville mayor Bill Paxton Purcell III.

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