The Principals' Office Blog

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?

Countdown to Summer

As the end of the school year draws near, we’d like to hear about what’s going through your mind. Here’s this month’s My Two Cents question from Principal magazine: What’s the most difficult part of closing out the school year and what do you most look forward to as the school year comes to an end?
Here’s what some of you have responded:
What I most look forward to as the school year comes to an end is seeing the growth of the students and the progress they have made throughout the year. And then, of course—summer vacation!
Tammy D. CondrenPrincipalMarion C. Early ElementaryMorrisville, Missouri
One of my two schools of which I am the principal is closing due to budget issues. The children whose school is closing are all coming to my other school, which is 10 minutes away. Therefore, I am looking forward to having all of my students together on one campus. The difficult part of closing will be not having a place for all of the outstanding teachers and staff who will be placed in other schools. Some staff will make little money and have a long drive from where they live. Tough times call for tough decisions and my heart goes out to all that are losing an integral part of their community.
Susan Summers PersisPrincipalW. F. Burns Oak Hill ElementaryIndian River ElementaryEdgewater and Oak Hill, Florida
Let us know your two cents!

NAESP Election “Goes Electronic” With eBallots

NAESP election time is fast approaching for the 2009 membership year. This year’s election will “go electronic” and use eBallots! We are very excited about this important transition to online voting. We hope this change will make it easier for our eligible members to vote and increase the overall voter turnout.
The positions being filled this year are president-elect, Zone 5 director, Zone 7 director, and Zone 9 director. Read each candidate’s bio on the NAESP Web site and look out for an e-mail on/around April 14, which will direct you to a secure Web page at VoteNet, our election provider.
Good luck to all candidates!

Farewell, New Orleans

The Delegate Assembly is held on the last morning of the convention. The main business at hand is to approve the constitutional changes that have been recommended by the resolutions committee. One of the key items to be voted on this year is electronic voting for national office, which passed.
Also during the Delegate Assembly, outgoing members of the NAESP Board of Directors are given a token of appreciation from their states.
I have considered it an honor to have had the privilege to act as the NAESP convention blogger. I hope that in some small way my contribution to the blog has been helpful to you. My best to you as you finish your school year!

Day 4 of Convention Doesn't Disappoint

This morning, I started my day bright and early at the Zone 7 breakfast. We have an election for Zone 7 director this year and have two very good candidates from which to choose. South Dakota was the host and did a wonderful job. One of the cool parts of the breakfast is the state giveaways. Each state brings something from their state (e.g., artwork, book) and names are selected to win these prizes. I would encourage anyone to attend their zone breakfast if given the opportunity.
My first concurrent session for today was titled "Teaching 2.0: Learning & Leading in the Digital Age." The presenter did a very good job of talking about the technology that is being used in his school, but also shared thoughts about how technology can be better utilized. One analogy that he shared showed a plate full of food. The initial idea is that our plates are too full already to try and use technology in education. His point is that technology should not be another piece of food but should be seen as the spices that go into making the food taste better. Technology should be a way to enhance, not add to, education.
The Third General Session speaker was Jeff Corwin. He is the well-known conservationist who, amongst other endeavors, hosts the TV show The Jeff Corwin Experience. Before he began speaking, the new chief executive director for the National Parent Teacher Organization, Byron Garrett, briefly greeted the group. Wow! I have to tell you that I was very impressed. I was able to give him my business card-I thought the national PTA might like to include some information regarding PTO in my state association publication.
Corwin shared his passion for our world and especially the natural resources that, in his words, "our world has been blessed with." He encouraged principals to do all that we can to help promote the cause of conservationism through education in our schools.
After lunch, I attended a session titled "When Consequences Don't Work: Succeeding With Difficult Students." This may have been one of the more practical sessions I have attended regarding useable strategies. I am very interested in getting Conscious Classroom Management, a book written by the presenter. A major premise is that behavior should be taught step by step, just as in teaching mathematics. When expectations are clear, the art of effective instruction can begin.
My last official activity for the day was to attend the National Distinguished Principals Reunion. I had the good fortune to have been named the 2008 NDP for North Dakota. I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with my peers, and after getting to know them better I was even more humbled to have been given the opportunity to a part of that group. Thanks to NAESP for lining up this reunion!

Behind the Scenes, "Lap-top Time," and Networking

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!

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