The Principals' Office Blog

And the Winner is . . . .

At a White House ceremony yesterday, Andrea Peterson was named the 2007 National Teacher of the Year. Peterson is a music teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Granite Falls, Washington, and received the award for her “community focus, teamwork with other teachers, and a desire to see all students succeed.” Though it is rare for a specialist to be bestowed the award, Peterson’s superintendent said “in the case of Andrea Peterson it only makes sense” because her “music program is not a complement to our basic education program; it is an integral part of it.” Among Peterson’s accomplishments are: revitalizing the music program in her district with the addition of auditioned choirs, performances, and bands, and introducing a cross-curriculum music program.  The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

New York City Principals Offered $25,000 Bonus

The latest development in the Bloomberg administration’s overhaul of New York City public schools is a tentative deal with principals and assistant principals that would provide $25,000 bonuses for those who elected to serve three years in underperforming schools, The New York Times reported yesterday. In addition to financial incentives, deal highlights include increasing principals’ workdays by 15 minutes, a more nuanced review system, and an end to seniority rights. Mayor Bloomberg’s reform initiative launched in 2003, Children First, affects the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren and 1,200 schools. Education Week’s blog, Bridging Differences, provides an analytic history of the reform of New York City public schools. How would such policies affect principals in your district?

How Much Do Principals Earn?

How do salaries of elementary and middle school principals compare with those of other administrators and classroom teachers? Are increases in salaries of principals keeping pace with increases in salaries of classroom teachers? The National Survey of Salaries and Wages in Public Schools—conducted by the Educational Research Service—answers all these questions and more. The survey reflects data collected from 550 sample school systems representing all district sizes, all per-pupil expenditure levels, and all geographical regions across the United States.

The complete survey of school principals is published in the May/June issue of Principal magazine and can be accessed at

Kids Think Green

How does the discussion about global warming and climate change affect school-aged children? Climate change scenarios are defining a generation in the same way that the Depression and the Cold War defined the lives of previous generations, according to a recent article in The Washington Post. As a result, school-aged children are the drivers of a host of green activities. For example, a student in Herkimer Elementary School in Herkimer, NY was inspired to initiate a program promoting energy efficiency by replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Other schools around the nation are preparing for this year’s Earth Day, April 22, with activities like nature walks, recycling projects, and tree planting.

Washington State Principals Join the Blogosphere

Check out the Association of Washington School Principals’ new blog, The Comp Book. It’s great to see more principals using blogs to communicate with their staff and parents (and the general public).  For example, Arizona principal Steve Poling has Mr. P’s Blog, Oklahoma principal Jan Borelli has Dr. Jan’s Blog, and Washington principal Glen Malone has Almost Monday. These are just a few of the principal blogs that have been launched. Have you started a blog? If so, send us a link to it.

Old School School

Do you remember what school was like in your day—before smart classrooms and technology centers were common place? While most students can’t conceive of schools of the past, fifth graders at Indian Hills Elementary School in Hopkinsville, KY, had the opportunity to experience one-room turn-of-the-century schooling at the recently restored Beverly Academy. The school opened in 1889, was restored in 1999, and today serves as a museum to show the public what public school looked like over one hundred years ago. Indian Hills students, for example, used a pulley system to gather water, and used slate boards and chalk to practice math lessons.

Report Released on the Value of Educational Software

Are you considering upgrading educational software in your building? Before you do, consider the Department of Education’s recently released report on the impact of educational technology on student learning. The study was mandated by NCLB and concentrated on first-, fourth-, and sixth-grade math and reading classes.  It found that classes using selected software did not score significantly higher on texts than classes that did not use the software. “Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort,” is the first of two reports from the study—the second report will focus on the effectiveness of individual products. A research report in NAESP’s Principal also investigated the link between technology and student achievement.

Creative Approaches to Fundraising

We received many, many comments from the principals who took the NAESP fundraising survey. Some principals felt that schools should not be in the business of fundraising, others thought it was good for school spirit but worried about having to rely so much on the revenue for basic items. Principals are also looking at more creative ways to fundraise in their school. We asked a few principals about this and here’s what they had to say:

At Steve Poling’s Arizona school, the PTO held a Read-A-Thon to encourage children to read while raising money, rather than just sell catalogue merchandise. Poling says they raised just as much through the Read-A-Thon as they would normally raise selling “catalogue stuff that nobody wants anyway.”  Another treat was that the PTO president filmed a hilarious video to promote the Read-A-Thon and to show students in their kick-off assemblies. You can access it at

Missouri’s Teresa Tulipana doesn’t believe principals should provide fundraising incentives that encourage students to disrespect the office of the principal. “Relationships with students are important and it’s important to be fun and approachable, but I believe some of these activities border on disrespect,” says Tulipana. “We must do everything we can to raise the level of respect for our, rather than a pie in the face, invite small groups to your office for ‘Pie with the Principal.’ Instead of the dunk tank, coordinate a school-wide basketball contest to see who can dunk the ball. Be creative—establish incentive programs (and fundraisers) that build relationships, build trust, build respect, and promote the academic goals of the school.”

Oklahoma’s Jan Borelli thinks principals should give more attention to grants, rather than focus solely on fundraising. “Every year there are thousands of dollars that don’t get used because no one applies," says Borelli. “I think that we should start considering the time and effort we put in on selling traditional ‘stuff’ and use that time more effectively by applying for grant opportunities.  Google ‘educational grant opportunities’ and get started.  My school has received a total of $15,000 from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, Laura Bush Library Grants, and the Dollar General Store.”

What are some creative approaches that you have tried with fundraising?  Let us know here at the Principals’ Office.

Principals Share Their Thoughts on Fundraising

NAESP released the results of its 2007 fundraising survey during its 86th Annual Convention and Exposition in Seattle (which, by the way, was a great success).

What? No Rain in Seattle for Two Days?

Thousands of principals have soared to Seattle this week for NAESP’s 86th Annual Convention and Exposition and for two days straight, they’ve been welcomed with sunny skies and unusually warm temperatures. But alas, this is Seattle and the raindrops are expected later today. But the principals have plenty of exciting sessions to choose from indoors in the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. For the latest on what’s happening at this year’s Convention, visit Convention News Online at to read about sessions and events. And for a real treat, read blogs from Jan Borelli, principal of Westwood Elementary School in Oklahoma, and Tracy Latimer, an aspiring principal at Eisenberg Elementary School in Nevada. NAESP's Convention will continue through April 2.

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