The Principals' Office Blog

Blog: A Seamless Continuum of Learning

Connelly_smallResearch shows that children who begin formal schooling behind their peers are likely to stay behind and are more at risk of dropping out of school. This is a tragedy of epic proportions—most of these children are destined to lead permanently challenged lives, often adversely affecting their families and our society.

Mentor Center: Seeking Tips for the Hiring Process

As the school year comes to an end, so does the tenure of NAESP's Mentor Center principal. Here's her final entry:

With retirements, resignations, and staff moving into different positions in the district, I needed to hire seven new staff members. Most school districts around us are on the opposite end of the spectrum; they are laying off staff. Because of this I have had to screen hundreds of applications for the hiring process. Something that you don’t learn in college is how to efficiently screen applications to narrow down the amount of candidates for interviews.

Save Education Jobs, Speak Up for Kids

Secretary Arne Duncan estimates that as many as 300,000 educators could lose their jobs before the start of the next school year due to drastic deficits in state and local school budgets across the country. Join thousands of your colleagues in calling for Congress to save education jobs!

Funding Available to Support Arts Education

Crayola, in partnership with NAESP’s National Principals Resource Center, will award up to 20 schools with mini-grants valued at $3,000 to help strengthen their arts education programs. The mini-grant program, “Champion Creatively-Alive Children,” will fund each project with a $2,500 monetary grant and $500 worth of Crayola products.
The mini-grant program aims to help educators implement and document innovative arts education projects to share best practices and inventive approaches to nurturing creatively alive children. As evidenced in our arts-themed issue of Principal magazine, integrating the arts into the school curriculum develops the whole child. In order to reach their full potential and grow into self-motivated learners, children’s natural curiosity and explorative spirits must be nurtured. However, diminishing school budgets often lead to arts education being among the first programs to be reduced or cut altogether.
Application materials and more details about the program are now available online. The deadline to apply is Aug. 15, 2010.

Virginia Principal Testifies About Transformational Leadership

Susan E. Bridges, principal of A.G. Richardson Elementary School in Culpeper, Virginia, testified on May 19 before the House Committee on Education & Labor about the tools principals need to successfully turn schools around. Bridges recounted her personal experience in using data and developing a sense of community to overcome the challenges of redistricting.
“I firmly believe that I have been successful in leading change in my school because of my hard-working and dedicated staff and because of the support and flexibility in decision-making that I have been given by the school district’s administration,” Bridges said. “To be effective, all principals require the authority and autonomy to make necessary changes in their school buildings. This means principals must be able to arrange building staff and resources to address the needs of students, and to work collaboratively with colleagues both inside and outside of the school to identify the tools needed to sustain change and growth.” 
Watch the live feed of the hearing and let us know your thoughts about turnaround leadership.

Congrats to New President-elect, Board Members

We proudly welcome Robert L. Monson, principal of Parkston Elementary School in Parkston, South Dakota, as the recently elected president-elect of the 15-person board of directors of NAESP. “Facing today’s challenges and those yet to come will require a president-elect who has leadership experience and forward-looking vision,” Monson said. “We must be advocates on many levels and in numerous areas to provide the best eduation for all of our students.”
Monson, a member of NAESP since 1997 who served on its board of directors from 2007 to 2009, has also held memberships in the School Administrators of South Dakota and in the South Dakota Association of Elementary School Principals, serving in the latter as president (2005-2006) and treasurer (2001-2004).  
In NAESP zone elections, the following individuals were elected to the board of directors: Dean Warrenfeltz, principal of Berkeley County School in Martinsburg, West Virginia, will represent Zone 3 principals in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia; Nancy Flatt Meador, principal of Madison Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee, will represent Zone 4 principals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands; and Mark J. White, principal of Hintgen Elementary School in La Crosse, Wisconsin, will represent Zone 6 principals in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Barbara A. Chester, principal of Cherry Park Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, will be installed as NAESP 2010-2011 president on July 1 and Monson will assume the office of president one year later.

Strength in Numbers at Leadership Summit

Last week, I represented NAESP at the Learning First Alliance (LFA) Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit assembled 17 national organizations that collectively represent 10 million people, and demonstrated the true meaning of strength in numbers. One goal of LFA was to establish united messages regarding pertinent issues in education, and LFA convened panels to provide attendees with outside perspectives on these issues.
One of the panels addressed the Common Core State Standards initiative and included representatives from the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The summit’s attendees generally agreed with the concepts behind the standards, but questions emerged as a result of the discussion.
A senior adviser to Rep. Dick Gephardt and a former Republican staff director for the House Committee on Education & Labor provided an overview of the probability of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the consensus was that it would not happen before the 2010 elections. Both agreed that members of Congress were spending a lot of time on the campaign trail and bringing constituents’ issues back to the halls of Congress. They cited an example of a conversation between a member of Congress and a local elementary school principal that made its way to Washington. 
Point being made: Let your voice be heard. 
Diane Cargile, NAESP President

In Search of Aspiring Children’s Book Authors

Do you have the skills to write a children’s book? If so, here’s a great opportunity for you. The NAESP Foundation, in cooperation with Charlesbridge Publishing, has launched the National Children’s Book of the Year Contest for aspiring children’s book authors.
This is your chance to get your work endorsed by the NAESP Foundation and published by a nationally known publisher with a proven track record and extensive outreach across the nation.
Prospective authors may submit a picture or chapter book written for children ages 3-16. Judging will be based on content, originality, and age-appropriateness. So get started on your potential best-seller—the deadline for entries is Feb. 15, 2011.
More details about the contest and the submission process, including entry forms, are on the NAESP Foundation Web page. Good luck!

Duncan’s Call for Turnaround Principals

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to turn around 5,000 low-performing schools in the next five years, and he is looking to principals for help.
Duncan recently addressed attendees of NAESP’s Annual Convention and Exposition via video, and he challenged them to help him turn around low-performing schools. “Principals are always the catalyst for change in schools and fundamental to the implementation of sustainable school reforms,” he said. “Consider being a turnaround principal. Think about moving to a struggling school in your district.”
According to Duncan, the U.S. Department of Education is distributing $4 billion for school turnaround programs through Title I School Improvement Grants, and the department has asked Congress for an additional $900 million for a reauthorized school turnaround grants program.
Duncan made it clear that he believes strong school leadership is a critical component of school improvement, and he discussed some of the steps the Department of Education is taking to support principals. “For the first time, we are dedicating resources specifically for school leader professional development,” Duncan said. “Historically our department has underinvested in that area, and we want to do much, much better.”
NAESP’s advocacy team is currently pushing for the inclusion of two policy proposals in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, both of which would strengthen professional development programs for principals. Read about these policy proposals on NAESP’s Advocacy Web page and watch Duncan’s speech online.

Help Prevent Violence Against Teachers

Each year, 7 percent of American teachers are threatened with injury and 3 percent are physically attacked by students. In addition to the medical and psychological damage these incidents inflict on teachers and other students, schools accrue a number of costs as a result teacher victimization, including lost days of work and increased workers’ compensation claims. The nationwide costs of teacher victimization to teachers, parents, and taxpayers are calculated to exceed $2 billion annually.
Despite the size and scope of this problem, more research and information is needed to understand the causes of teacher victimization and to decrease the frequency of violent incidents in the classroom. NAESP is asking members to participate in and forward a 10-minute online survey that was designed by the Center for Psychology in Schools and Education (CPSE) at the American Psychological Association. CPSE recently established a task force to create awareness about violence against teachers and help K-12 teachers prevent violent incidents in their classrooms.
The survey is anonymous and will further the research agenda on violence directed against teachers. Survey participants will receive access to a brochure outlining teacher victimization prevention and intervention strategies.
The deadline for responding is May 1. Remember to forward the link to the survey ( to your classroom teachers!

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