The Principals' Office Blog

Will E-books Replace Traditional Textbooks?

The Dallas Morning News reports that more school districts are replacing hardbound textbooks with electronic textbooks, including three districts in Texas. The reason? E-books can be accessed online or downloaded onto a laptop computer and can be updated more frequently than traditional textbooks. But the article doesn’t mention the still prevalent digital divide. What happens if a student doesn’t have access to a computer? Or if the school district doesn’t have enough funding to provide laptops for all of the students? The digital divide may have decreased, but there is still a divide. Check out Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003, the most recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics. Tell us what you think. Are e-books the wave of the future?

When Did Google Become a Verb?, Part II

Yesterday, they weighed in on whether educators are being left behind when it comes to new technology. Today, principals discuss how they try to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.

Alabama Principal Frank Buck writes: For me, reading has been the key to staying up on trends in technology. Subscriptions to several tech-related magazines, participation in several listservs, and trying to catch a webinar here and there, help me to stay somewhat abreast of where our world is headed. A wise man once told me, "Be not the first the embrace the new or the last to set aside the old," and I try to heed that advice as I read.

Arizona Principal Stephen Poling writes: School districts need strong technology plans that are integrated into the teaching and learning that is taking place in the classrooms. We need to be brave, think big, and plan small steps along the way to keep schools a relevant place for kids.

Missouri Principal Teresa Tulipana writes: Staying up with the latest technology can be challenging. Thankfully, I work in a district that values technology as a tool for learning as well as a tool for making our work more efficient. Every month the district’s technology department provides a 30 minute mini-training for the administrative team. The training is embedded into our regular administrator meetings and ranges from Outlook Tips to How to Effectively Prepare a Power Point Presentation.  Oftentimes there are also topics specific to new technology such as our PDA’s or online benchmark assessments. Another great resource is the free publication Edutopia, which is produced by the George Lucas Education Foundation and focuses on innovative teaching and learning using a variety of media.

Montana Principal Pat Hould writes: I am blessed to have three staff members who are very technology savvy and I seek their counsel often. One of my staff has a designated class period as our technology liaison and her specific job during that daily period is to assist staff directly with their tech questions. Our district has two technology specialists and I utilize their assistance for "help" type support when my staff is unable to assist me. The support I have described is primarily troubleshooting in nature, but it does allow me to stay current with the software programs that are utilized within our district.

Oklahoma Principal Jan Borelli writes: Staying up-to-date with technology is simply a matter of using it. I began writing a blog a couple of years ago. I have met other bloggers, and they have introduced me to things that developed my skills. Using technology is an evolving process. The more you use it, the more you learn to use it. The word to keep an eye out for is Pod casting.

When Did Google Become a Verb?

Remember floppy disks and reel-to-reel projectors and when we called the Internet the “information superhighway?” Changes in technology occur so frequently that if you blink, you might miss them. It can be a challenge for educators to keep pace when their students are often 10 steps ahead of them. We asked some principals whether they feel that educators are being left behind in technology and here’s what they had to say...

Alabama Principal Frank Buck writes: Being on the "cutting edge" is really hard, because the "edge" never stays still. On the other hand, the basics of word processing and spreadsheet management have been around for over 20 years now, and an amazing number of teachers still think "cut and paste" is something you do with scissors and glue. Offer a technology workshop on the basics, and you won't find them there. Who do you find? The teachers who are already pretty good with technology, see it as a friend, and want to take their skills to the next level.

Montana Principal Pat Hould writes: Unless educators are able to participate in meaningful and sustained staff development opportunities, we will be left behind. Technology training, if it is truly going to be meaningful, must be ongoing and not offered as a stand alone or "drive-by" type in-service. Summer institutes and/or weekend type trainings, coupled with ongoing tech support "in house," seem to be the best sources of technology development for my staff.

Missouri Principal Teresa Tulipana writes: Technology is expensive and for educators to not be left behind, school districts must budget with technology in mind. When budgets cannot support the technology needs of a school, grants should be pursued, like the eMINTS program. Having said this, I still see pockets of educators who struggle to turn on a laptop or to effectively search the Internet. Administrators must provide numerous opportunities for teachers to stretch their technological skills; administrators should highlight staff who embed technology into their curriculum and classrooms; and, most importantly, administrators must strive to keep current and model the effective use of technology.

Oklahoma Principal Jan Borelli writes: There must be a sound technology leader in the district who can not only drive innovation, but also make it inviting. I think we will see a change in a lot of things... particularly how we assess students. Our state is now beginning testing some students on the computer... it's easier, cheaper, and is coming... keep an eye out for it.

Arizona Principal Stephen Poling writes: The students are many steps ahead with technology, which is just fine. That should motivate educators to try to catch up so that we can engage students to use technology. Looking at the popularity of sites like You Tube and My Space should give educators ideas as well as incentives to see how we can use those types of mediums for teaching the standards. If educators aren’t careful, we will be too far behind in technology to engage kids in learning.

Do you think educators are being left behind? Let us know your thoughts.

Tomorrow, read how these principals stay abreast of the latest technological changes.

Kentucky Principal and NAESP’s Past President Rosemarie Young writes about her experiences working on the ESEA task force:

Greetings, colleagues!

Let me share the work involved with the ESEA task force and the thinking behind our recommendations. The ESEA Task Force was composed of principals from across our nation and our goal was not to “fix” NCLB but to develop recommendations for the federal government’s role in education that would support states’ efforts in raising the achievement of every student. The task force went back to the original intent of ESEA to provide equitable educational opportunities for all children in the United States.

Much dissatisfaction has been voiced over the high stakes accountability system of NCLB. The federal government provides a very small percentage of funds to states but requires strict adherence to their testing requirements. Many states had established strong accountability systems and had to completely revamp their assessment systems to meet the federal mandates. Basically, we are calling for a return to state assessment systems with the role of the federal government to provide funding to ensure educational equity for our children. In addition, a system that utilizes a growth model assessment approach with multiple measures of achievement is recommended. Other components include recommendations to help schools succeed, special education, English Language Learners, well-qualified professionals, and supplementing the K-12 educational system.

Now we must initiate the tremendous work of getting the word out and working with legislators to enact the needed changes. We must have your help to make this happen! So, what do you think? Will these recommendations get the job done and how do we mobilize the tremendous principal leadership out there to ensure the needed changes happen? Are you willing to get involved?

NAESP’s Recommendations for the Reauthorization of ESEA

Today NAESP released its recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). NAESP hopes that the recommendations will encourage Congress to amend ESEA to make it more consistent, flexible, and fair for schools to effectively address the academic needs of all students. Read the full recommendations at

Principals in the Blogosphere

Earlier this month, the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) launched the project “100 principal blogs in 100 days” to increase the number of principals in the blogosphere. CASTLE is offering to create and host principal blogs for free through at least the summer of 2007. So far, 33 principals have signed up. The project ends in January.

Thinking about starting your own principal blog but don't know how to get started? While teachers tend to use blogs as curriculum tools, principals lean toward using them as communication tools. To get started, read "Principal Blogs" and "Why Blog As An Administrator."

Let us know if you have your own principal blog and, if so, how you're using it in your school.

Principals as Rock Stars

It’s the second day of NAESP’s National Distinguished Principals Award (NDP) and it’s been a treat listening to the 65 principals speak about how they lead successful schools. They’ve shared stories about how their schools have met AYP, qualified as National Blue Ribbon Schools, and how they create and support successful learning environments.

It’s interesting the way we “celebrify” reality TV stars and wealthy dilettantes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if principals and teachers received the same treatment — where fans would flock to them, asking them for their autographs and treating them like rock stars? And news cameras would flash like the paparazzi as they walked through their communities. Aw yes, in a perfect world. Yet listening to the NDPs, it’s apparent that they are celebrities in their communities. Our principals may not be rock stars, but they are definitely role models and heroes.

Distinguished Principals To Be Honored Today in Washington, D.C.

NAESP and the U.S. Department of Education today named 65 outstanding elementary and middle school principals as the 2006 class of National Distinguished Principals. They will be honored October 27 at an awards banquet at the Capital Hilton hotel in Washington, D.C. Read excerpts from some of the principals on how this award has impacted them, both personally and professionally.

A Principal's Job is Never Done

The role of today’s principals has changed dramatically
just within the last few years. Principals are expected to be mentors, managers,
and in some cases magicians. Yet one thing remains the same—their commitment to
the success of students and teachers. We hope that NAESP’s new blog, the
Principals’ Office, which launches today, will highlight the complex job of
principals and also dispel the notion that the principals’ office is a place to
visit only when there’s a problem to be solved. We also hope that principals
from all over the world will take a moment and engage in conversations with
their colleagues. Welcome to the Principals’ Office—where the door is always

Is it the Equivalent of the Oscars?

If you ask any of these principals they might just say yes. We asked this year’s National Distinguished Principals (NDPs) what life has been like since they received the award and here's what some of them had to say…

  • Jackie Doerr, Arizona: “Ms. Doerr, we are so happy because you won the prize of the year,” “You worked hard and you deserve it,” “We are lucky that you are the principal,” “Ms. Doerr have you met the President yet?,” and “Ms. Doerr, I knew you were the best!”  These were comments from my wonderful students after I got my NDP recognition. The acknowledgement from students, staff, parents and peers has been the most rewarding. As an educator for 39 years, I find that life just keeps getting better and better.
  • Dr. Liz Dunham, Germany: The most enjoyable aspect has been the sense of shared pride which surrounds me in the community. We are a small American military base in Germany, and the parents, teachers, students and community members have joined me in celebrating this award. They are particularly proud because my colleague Dr. Russ Claus from our elementary school is a former NDP and everyone is bragging that we ONLY have NDPs in our schools.
  • Steve Ahle, California: Since being named an NDP, people are happy to hear about the award and are very congratulatory about it. I have been a principal for 25 years in the Carlsbad Unified School Districtand many of the friends and peers I have worked with have offered their congratulations. I relay that the feeling is mutual since I know all of them share in my successes and development along the way. I feel that they should share in this honor and I inform them I look good because they made me look good. The kids at school, parents that greet me, and teachers all are excited and awaiting the trip to D.C. and ask me if I have gone already, or if I will meet the President. There is a sense of pride that they exude and I feel it as well just representing them.
  • Ellen Demray, Michigan: My life as a principal has been so enhanced since I was named the Michigan Principal of the Year and then an NDP! From my very first day back in my district, when my students and staff all lined the hallways and played “Hail to the Chief” while I walked through my building, I have felt so honored and proud of being an educator! I have always felt enormous pride in doing the very best I can for the children placed in my care, whether it was in a classroom or in a whole school, and to have that daily effort recognized has been amazing! The parents at my school are very supportive and the staff is very proud too! But to the kids, I am just Mrs. Demray, who is there every day for them, just as I always was—and that’s the way it’s supposed to be! 
  • Ramona Robinson, Alabama: My faculty, students, and staff have had such a great time in celebrating what I feel is an accomplishment for my school and community! My faculty gave me gifts of appreciation, our school board recognized me at a board meeting, and my parents treated me to a day at a spa and an overnight stay at the Marriott. One of my student’s concern has been that I did not get a “trophy!” We had a great laugh with that one!!
  • Myron K. Brumaghim, Hawaii: The NPD award for my school and community can best be described as awesome. My students, staff, and community have really viewed this award as a reflection of things to come. It is just unbelievable what it has done for them. 
  • Diane Moeller, Minnesota: Since being named an NDP, my life has been a whirlwind. (Of course, that was true before the award and is true for any school principal.) This award has served as a strong source of pride for our school community. The staff, students, and parents are all walking a bit taller with the added recognition. The community even showed its support recently by passing a bond referendum to allow us to build a new school. I would like to think this would have passed anyway, but I believe the positive publicity served us well to help get the word out. For me personally, I am often reflecting on the role of principal as I determine messages to be given to various groups. The more I reflect, the more inspired I am with the great job this is!
  • Susan E. Bridges, Virginia: Life is very busy! I have become quite a local celebrity, being featured in three newspapers and on our local television channel. I have been asked to serve on several state-level committees, some of which have involved a visit to our state House of Delegates, and the Lt. Governor paid me a visit at my school this summer when he was in town! I am still receiving congratulatory cards and remarks from colleagues and parents. I truly feel honored by this outpouring of support and celebration.
  • Geraldine Branch, Lebanon: I am honored and grateful to have received this award, but it is a quiet matter for me. Only my closest friends, family, and colleagues know, for I work at the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon. The tragic events of the summer have consumed our full attention. As we regain our sense of self and safety, I will celebrate with the school and community as they are the ones who earned the award.
  • Charlotte R. Rafferty, Florida: My students recognized me and each child in the school gave me a rose (over 450 roses) and WOW what excitement in the building with the news media there and the television cameras rolling. My Rotary Club also recognized me with a dozen beautiful roses and a standing ovation at the meeting. I have felt so honored and so privileged to be recognized as the Florida NDP.
  • Phil Davis, Indiana: I was named Elementary Principal of the Year for Indiana at our Fall Principals’ Conference last November. When I returned to my school the next day I was surprised with a “parade” –and I was the parade! Almost 600 students and staff lined the halls as I “danced” along the parade route. My staff put a king’s crown on me for the parade. My 2nd graders all blew bubbles and our 3rd graders threw confetti. I received two binders full of notes from every child, plus numerous congratulations and cards from the staff and community. I am always quick to say that the NDP honor is for our whole school community (knowing that I wouldn’t have received it without all the support of staff, students, and parents). I have been treated like “royalty” by the Indianapolis Star and local newspapers. It has been very overwhelming and humbling, yet, awesome, for the past 10 months!
  • Sharon M. Redfern, Montana: Since being named an NDP, I have received many good wishes from friends and colleagues throughout the state. I was greeted with a lovely breakfast, cards, flowers, and congratulations from my staff.  They, and the students, had also prepared a surprise assembly in which the word “Principal” was spelled out with descriptive phrases for each letter. I was also presented with a huge book containing photos and autographs of all my students and staff. I have been featured in the local newspaper and television stations since receiving this award. It has been an honor and a privilege and an incredible experience!
  • Scott Stults, Wyoming: Certainly this is one, if not the most, humbling award that I have ever received. It was gratifying to know that the reason I was a recipient of this award was due to being surrounded by a great staff, supportive parents, and hardworking students. It all began in January as we sat in the banquet hall awaiting the announcement of this year’s NDP. Once the DVD began, my throat became dry and my eyes began to swell with tears of excitement and disbelief knowing that I would be joining the elite group of principals that I held in great honor and esteem. My excitement became more realized as I watched clips from the junior high students, teachers, and parents with the climax of my family entering and sharing in this surreal experience. Upon my return to my school, I was celebrated with “high fives” (handprint cut-outs with five reasons for the honor) throughout the school, banners, students and staff dressed in cowboy boots and ties (my normal attire), and an after school celebration. I later received congratulatory letters from our U.S.legislators and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Our local newspaper featured a front page “spread” celebrating my honor. I now anxiously await the red carpet treatment that goes with the official ceremony in Washington, D.C. The “celebrity” status has been nice, but I will also be glad to return back to earth where I can be the same guy I was before this tremendous honor was bestowed. As I have shared, in my heart I truly know this is not an award won by me, but by those students, staff, administrators, and parents that I am blessed to work with on a daily basis. Has my life changed? Yes, and I have enjoyed every minute!
  • Deborah Emery, MaineNDP: I live in a small rural town in central Maine, population 1,000, yes that’s right, 1,000. When notification of my award reached the paper, the townsfolk immediately wanted to plan a celebration. We had a reception at the home of one of the elderly women in our town. A large number of residents came to wish me well. I received an outpouring of well wishes, cards, drawings, and gifts from community members. The teachers worked together to my surprise and made me a beautiful queen sized quilt for my home—a beautiful blend of blues and whites and terra cotta—which they presented at a town reception in May. Many of my artifacts from the spring awards are on display in our viewing cabinet in the school lobby. I am so grateful to have been selected for this award; but even more so then before, I feel the commitment to the welfare of children strongly in my heart.
  • David Root, Ohio: I was extremely honored to represent hundreds of Ohio middle school principals by virtue of this award. There are many outstanding principals that see to the daily needs of the puberty stricken. Our community has been very supportive, especially since my Assistant Principal, Ms. Gweynn Hampel, was similarly recognized by the OASSP last year as an assistant principal.
  • Pete Swanson, Alaska: Life has not really changed much since I was named NDP.  There was an article in the local paper about me receiving the award and many people in our local community have been very kind to congratulate me on receiving the award.  My family certainly has continued to provide a good dose of humility for me even though they are very proud of me and the fact that I received such an award.  My hope is that the award will make more of a difference in the lives of the children, staff, and community that I serve as I am challenged to live up to their even higher expectations.
  • Judi Taylor, Idaho: I have such a great intrinsic feeling that others know what I have accomplished or try to accomplish and see that it has worth and value.  It is very rewarding!

  • Nancy Gagliardi, Massachusetts: It has been quite an honor to be named NDP!  Last spring, I was honored at my state principals’ meeting by colleagues, friends and family.  Since then I have received recognition at my school and in my community. It has really created a sense of pride and recognition for my entire school community—I am truly thankful for all their hard work and all they have done!
  • Virginia F. Hicks, Oregon: The positive response has been warm and touching.  I have felt truly humbled and honored by all the recognition and sometimes I still can’t believe that I received this prestigious award because there are so many hard working, dedicated administrators in Oregon. I was recognized by the Jacksonville-Applegate Rotary and I was asked to speak and share my thoughts on education. The Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) hired a video production company to film our school and it’s NDP! The video was shown at the annual COSA conference in Seaside, Oregon this past June. The video has also been shown at Rotary meetings, schools, and to family and friends. My mother shows her copy to anyone willing to watch it! She even had the hired lawn boys watch it one day when they were mowing her lawn. The local papers, the Jacksonville Review and Medford Mail Tribune have both run articles regarding the award. The Tribune editors printed a very complimentary editorial entitled, “She’s a Believer!,” which focused on my belief that all children can learn and succeed. One of the local TV stations, KTVL, made a short segment for a weekly education highlight called, “Learning Matters.” Two local restaurants picked up my dinner bill as a way to say thank you. I have received many cards, letters, e-mails, and phone calls from all around the state. I have been particularly moved by the number of teachers in my district who have congratulated me and many of them have never worked directly with me. I frequently hear, “It’s about time you were recognized for all you have done for this district.” My staff had a lot of fun with me and hosted a “Na-cho Average Principal” Fiesta featuring nachos and other delicious food. They decorated my office and the staff room in my honor. The most heartwarming moment was when a troubled student that I have worked with for several years gave me a hug and thanked me for being his principal. He said he saw me on the news and wanted me to know that I was a big influence in his life. He said, “You cared about me and you didn’t give up so after a while I decided that I better start caring about myself.” (This student is a 6th grader who has been in foster care for the past three years because his mom is in jail. I shared with him that I lived in foster care growing up also.)
  • Bob Ziegler, Florida: Since I was named an NDP, I have experienced a renewed sense of accomplishment and joy as I work with my constituents. The process has caused me to reflect on my experiences and on my philosophical viewpoints. That reflective exercise was very rewarding and enhanced my desire to continue being a school principal. Young and old and middle-aged alike have been saying nice things and congratulating me. I find people are excited to be associated with and led by a NDP.  The new title seems to be a validation from an outside source of my leadership and this carries with it a great deal of weight. I have been given the opportunity to lift up my previous and current staff members as the real award winners. Without them I would not have been able to do and experience so many wonderful things in the education setting. We have celebrated together.

  • Billie Jo Drake, Kansas: Obviously, the staff and students used this as a wonderful excuse to organize a school-wide celebration where I was honored by every class, the superintendent, and my family members. Of course, several teachers took the opportunity to “roast” me and wrote a poem in my honor which was later included in the 2005-06 yearbook. The local newspaper and television stations did wonderful interviews and articles and I have been asked to give various presentations throughout the community. It has been an honor that I will treasure for a very long time.
  • Loretta Rubin, Connecticut: My life has been very hectic and exciting since I was named an NDP. I was recognized by the Middletown Board of Education at a school assembly. The Mayor of Middletown came to the school and declared a day in my honor.  The Connecticut Association of Schools—an NAESP affiliate—has scheduled a gala dinner in my honor (as well as the secondary principals of the year).
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