The Principals' Office Blog

An Inside Look at PALS

For the next couple of days, The Principals’ Office will feature reflections from participants in the Peer Assisted Leadership Services (PALS) training program taking place now at the NAESP headquarters. PALS trains mentors to play a vital role in the future of new principals, their leadership, and their schools by certifying them to become a National Principal Mentor. The first part of this process is a three-day Leadership Immersion Institute to sharpen and develop administrative and leadership skills to mentor aspiring or new principals. Here are the principals who will share their experiences:

From left, to right:Jan Conway, principal of Glen Avenue Elementary School in Salisbury, Maryland Joyce Dunn, principal of Pittsville Elementary and Middle School in Pittsville, MarylandKathy Woodley, principal of West Springfield Elementary School in Springfield, VirginiaDwayne Young, principal of Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Virginia

PALS Training—Day One

Dwayne reflects on why he decided to become a mentor:

One of the influential leaders in my life, Dr. Loretta Webb, always challenged us to “lift others as we climb.” Her challenge was to always consider the positive impact we can have on others through our learning and our work, just as others have had upon us. By participating in PALS, I hope to gain the skills to offer confidence and encouragement to a beginning principal to find his or her own way. I also hope that this will be a personal and professional growth opportunity for me.

Jan and Joyce give details about what they learned about mentoring:

We were actively engaged the entire day, learning that mentoring is more than a workplace process. The professional, personal, emotional, and physical needs of our protégés must be included in the process. So far, the PALS training has provided us an opportunity to get to know conference participants and to share fabulous ideas. We’re working together to promote and strengthen the profession that we love.

Kathy explains one of the reflective exercises:

The first day of the PALS training was an awesome experience. After introductions, we were asked to make a timeline with the names of persons who have mentored us to become principals and then to use one word that described what they had done. I shared that one of my first principals had seen potential in me that I did not realize I possessed. Her vision, encouragement, and belief in me were the “evidence” of her impact on my life.

The interaction and dialogue with colleagues has been powerful, and I felt affirmation of my decision to participate in this training. I am excited about tomorrow and am eager to continue by journey to becoming a mentor.

Check back tomorrow to find out about day two of the PALS training.

NAESP’s Statement on the President’s Budget Request for FY09

Our nation’s schools are faced with unprecedented challenges, and educators are working to create and maintain effective learning communities to help children reach their highest potential. However, the Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposal that President Bush delivered to Congress this week fails to adequately fund essential programs to prepare the nation’s students for the bright futures that they deserve.

President Bush’s final budget request calls for $59.2 billion for federal education programs—which represents a cut in total spending— and seeks to eliminate funding for 47 programs and to freeze funding for many others.

Read NAESP’s reaction to the President's budget and full budget analysis.   

NCLB and Students with Disabilities

The National Council on Disability recently issued a report gauging NCLB’s impact on the academic progress of students with disabilities. Among the findings of The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: A Progress Report are that students with disabilities are doing better in terms of placement in various academic categories, “positive change is greater at the fourth grade and dissipates by the eighth grade,” and “since 2004 there has been a palpable and positive change in the overall attitude of educators toward educating students with disabilities.” Check out the report and let us know how it compares with your experiences.

State of the Union Previews Bush’s Education Budget

On Monday, President Bush gave his seventh and final State of the Union address to Congress and the nation, providing a sneak peek at some key initiatives from his budget request that will be released next week. Here are some of the issues that affect public school education.   “Pell Grants for Kids”President Bush called on Congress to adopt another federal voucher program called “Pell Grants for Kids.” The important distinction between traditional recipients of Pell Grants and K-12 students is that public schools are free and compulsory, while Pell Grants help students pay for college that is not free and is voluntary.

NAESP will strongly oppose the President’s proposal and attempt to redirect the $300 million he’s earmarked for the voucher program to a public education priority, like Title I.

ESEA ReauthorizationPresident Bush instructed Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind before he leaves office, stating “today, no one can deny [the] results” of the law. NAESP does not expect to see a final reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as NCLB, before 2009 but we will continue to share NAESP’s recommendations for the ESEA reauthorization with Congress.

In the meantime, visit the newly designed Leading Educators’ Advocacy Dashboard (LEAD) to find out updates on the progress toward ESEA’s reauthorization. 

The Principals Have Decided …

The winner of NAESP’s second annual Principal’s Read Aloud Award is Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin). Over 900 principals from across the country voted for Click, Clack, Moo, a charming tale about Farmer Brown and his barn full of literate cows.

The Principal's Read Aloud Award program recognizes quality children’s books and encourages principals to read aloud to their students. The presentation of the Read Aloud Award will be made during NAESP’s Annual Convention and Exposition in Nashville on Monday, April 7 at 10 a.m.

To begin the selection process for the 2009 award, NAESP is asking members to nominate a favorite title. If you have a book that you have enjoyed reading to children, please submit the title, author/illustrator, and publisher along with your name to We are looking for books that are currently in print and therefore readily available to our members. We look forward to honoring great children’s books and appreciat e your participation in the process.

Pittsburgh Superintendent Focuses on Instructional Leadership

Pittsburgh Superintendent Mark Roosevelt has a plan for his principals—to transform them from building managers to instructional leaders, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. During the past two school years, Roosevelt told principals about their new role, started the Pittsburgh Leadership Academy to help them adjust, and created a “School Plan for Excellence” for each school in the district.

NAESP believes that it is incumbent upon school principals to continue their professional growth in order to improve instructional leadership and model lifelong learning. What do you think about Roosevelt's plan?

Who Controls the School E-mail List?

Healthy communication between schools and parents allows both to collaborate in providing the best possible learning experience for students. Many schools find that using an e-mail list keeps parents in the loop. But The Washington Post reports that maintaining a school e-mail list can become problematic. Often maintained by a school’s PTA, conflict can arise over ownership if the list manager decides to leave the PTA or if there are stringent rules about who can post, for example. “As PTA Groups Move Online, So Does Dissension” describes some of the pitfalls of PTA managed e-mail lists. School administrators and PTA groups should work together when introducing an e-mail list. Establish ground rules and have people abide by them.

Help for Principals Seeking Grants

The lead article of the January 2008 issue of Communicator focused on how principals can find and apply for grants that will benefit their school. Here are a few sites that can help get you started on finding the right grant for your school. Let us know your experiences with finding and applying for funding.

www.grantsalert.comThis site is dedicated entirely to education funding and features a Grant Writers’ Directory—searchable by state or key word—that lists individuals and organizations experienced with writing winning proposals. site provides links to companies and foundations whose funding interests include education. Both large (e.g., Pfizer, Motorola) and smaller, lesser-known (e.g., Bowling Foundation, Frey Foundation) organizations are listed. site lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the U.S. Department of Education has invited or expects to invite applications for new awards for fiscal year 2008, and provides actual or estimated deadline dates for the submission of applications under these programs. NAESP Web site lists several more resources to help principals obtain funding for their school.

Cheers to the New Year!

The Principals’ Office will be taking a break for the next two weeks. Check back in with us in January for continued discussions of the complexities of the principalship and engaging posts that connect you with your colleagues.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season and all the best for the new year!

Should Zeros Be Permitted?

The January/February 2008 Speaking Out article addresses whether or not to give students a zero grade for an incomplete or missing assignment. The author of the current article believes that students should never receive zeros because it results in loss of learning, lower motivation, and, ultimately, failure. As such, she helped implement a school program in which students are given after-school opportunities to complete missing assignments, requiring them to earn a grade on all their schoolwork.

Do you agree that zeros should be eliminated from grading scales? What methods have you found effective in decreasing student failure while maintaining integrity of student grades and learning? Speak out and let us know what you think!

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