The Principals' Office Blog

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!

Win Free Supplies for Your School!

Woman’s Day magazine, in collaboration with NAESP, is sponsoring a contest for one lucky school to win more than $1,000 worth of art supplies, office supplies, and other resources that will help students achieve at high levels.
Apply soon—the deadline is April 26.
To nominate a school, teachers, parents, or students must simply write a short essay describing why their school is deserving of supplies. More details are on the NAESP Web site.

Convention Wrap-Up

Catch up on all that occurred during NAESP’s 2010 Convention and Exposition during the past few days by visiting Convention News Online. Read articles about the conference’s major events, take a look at our numerous photos, follow our convention blogger’s conference experience, and review messages from our Twitter team.
See you in Tampa, Florida, April 7-10, for next year’s conference!

Convention Concludes With Reflection and Appreciation

The city of Houston was blessed today with rays of sunshine, a little breeze, and 70° weather. At lunch I took a walk with some other principals through the Discovery Green area. Once arriving at The Lake House, a small café in this park, we were able to enjoy our lunch at an outdoor table.
Our conversations were information-seeking as well as reflective. Topics shifted from session presentations to details about our schools and from extended professional development opportunities, back to the yummy turkey and tomato sandwiches.
These casual “meetings of the mind” happened everywhere at the convention this week. In my opinion, they are just as important as the formal gatherings. Through these interpersonal conversations, principals are able to connect content from the convention to authentic practices in our own schools.
Once returning to the Hilton, I joined the NAESP leadership as a member of the Delegate Assembly. While I listened to agenda items that ranged from Association accomplishments and a budget analysis to revisions to the NAESP Platform, several things were evident in the room. First of all, we have a strong and committed leadership in this Association. From the NAESP staff to our colleagues who devote their time to represent us, good people are in the right places.
Second, there is a true sense of thankfulness among the general membership for all that is done through NAESP’s networks, supporting our role as school principals. Next, NAESP understands the importance of recognition, appreciation, and valuing those who contribute to our collective goals.
Finally, Executive Director Gail Connelly said it best as she beamed with pride while introducing her grandson to the audience. This cherub is clearly the treasure of Gail’s heart. She noted that her grandson will eventually graduate from high school in 2021, the same year NAESP will celebrate 100 years of representing the principals in our country. Gail reminded us today of the reason why we all do what we do—for every graduate yet to come.
This is the end of the 2010 convention and, thus, my role as the convention blogger. It has been a pleasure to share my experiences with you. My blessings to everyone for a safe trip back to your families and for a smooth end to the 2009-2010 school year.
If I can be of help or support to anyone in our Association, please don’t hesitate to contact me at I look forward to NAESP’s 90th Annual Convention and Exposition in the beautiful city of Tampa, Florida. See you there!

Education Breeds Hope and Freedom

This morning, I enjoyed listening to ideas about using school conflicts as a platform to grow and improve. Speakers Julie Combs and Stacy Edmonson facilitated an interesting session that required participants to reflect on disagreements and consider what we can do to move past interpersonal barriers. An awesome discussion broke out and by the end of the meeting, we had some good practices to implement back at our schools. 
Before heading to the Third General Session, I stopped to listen in at the Key Activists’ meeting. Organized by NAESP’s advocacy team, this forum provided an informative update about what is currently happening in Washington, D.C. The main areas of focus were ESEA reauthorization (and its significance for principals) and ideas for moving forward as a voice on “The Hill.” 
Moving on to the Third General Session, another outstanding keynote speaker captured the full attention of his audience. Greg Mortenson provided a summary of his mission in the Middle East and elements of the path he has traveled toward the promotion of peace for our global society. Although Greg now lives with his own family in Montana, it was interesting to learn that Greg’s mother was an elementary principal in Wisconsin. 
Greg’s message to the audience was that we need to listen more, respect others, and focus on building relationships. He spent time explaining the fascinating research behind the benefits of educating females as a method to influence positive change. The importance of service learning, acceptance of diversity, and civic engagement were also prominent themes. Greg extended his sincere gratitude to each of us for our daily work influencing children.
Here are some resources that Greg shared:
I’m off to lunch, a walk in the sunshine, and then to wrap up my convention experience by attending the Delegate Assembly! 

Where Did This Day Go?

It was over in a blink!
I spent time this afternoon visiting with many of the vendors in the exhibit hall. I found some great information about classroom materials, graduate programs, staff development opportunities, international travel, character education programs, motivational supports, and “hot off the press” research-based learning tools.
Talking with professionals who design, develop, and market these items was great. I have so much information to take back to my school and share with others. It’s amazing how many ideas are swirling in my mind just from seeing new products and gathering ideas from others!
I also had a chance today to find the NAESP Foundation’s silent auction! There are some very cool items up for grabs in that room. Hotel stays, travel packages, hot air balloon rides, sports memorabilia, golf packages, etc.
I put three bids down—but I’ll say no more. I’m just crossing my fingers that I’m the lucky winner on one of my bids! What a nice way to raise money for the NAESP Foundation and it added another element of fun to the convention.
Tonight I’m looking forward to a state reception and then finding another good Texas restaurant. Pete’s Dueling Pianos on Fannin Street is also on the agenda as a possible after-dinner adventure.
First session on Sunday is at 7 a.m., so I won’t be singing along with the pianos too late! I’m looking forward to hearing about uncommon leadership tools and collaborative practices among principals. Greg Mortenson is the keynoter on Sunday at 10 a.m. I’m very interested in hearing his message to school principals.
Until then, have a safe and relaxing evening.

Different Schools, Same Issues

This morning I joined Kathleen Sciarappa of New Hampshire to hear her information about bullying in the workplace. What I learned was that, in one degree or another, there are many principals with this type of situation at their school. Kathleen guided her session participants through some sharing activities. I exchanged ideas with a colleague from Florida. It’s always amazing to me that even though we are in different parts of the country, some of our issues are identical. Better yet, so are the solutions. I didn’t have time for breakfast today, so I snagged a soft pretzel on the way to the Second General Session. So much for healthy choices! It’s just like school; take a few minutes for the daily walking lunch period during all the “do you have a minute” requests. I guess some things never change.
I headed over to the ballroom with my walking breakfast to hear keynote speaker Marlee Martin. She is a zealous woman with powerful messages advocating not only for the hearing-impaired population, but for all people who have a disability of any type. It was a pleasure to experience Marlee delivering her speech using sign language and an interpreter. She touched every heart in the audience with her passion, courage, and dreams. Her mantra is shared by President Obama: “Yes, We Can!” 
Marlee asked principals to work with children by seeing abilities, not disabilities. She shared statistics that prove that discrimination against disabled citizens occurs with frequency in our culture. Marlee, a mother of four, went on to pledge that every child deserves to be loved, respected, and heard.
This afternoon, I’m looking forward to getting through more of the exhibit hall booths, meeting fellow principals at the state/zone booths, and learning about transformational leadership by some veteran pros!


An Afternoon Full of Activity

Houston has pretty wonderful things happening! I have to say that I am impressed—not only with the organization that went into this convention, but also with the level of leadership it took to coordinate all that is happening at this assembly of elementary school principals.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of joining the “Big Ten” Consortium for its annual meeting. Based on what I heard, there are truly brilliant movements happening across many states that benefit principals and, ultimately, kids. Led by Sandi Bisceglia of Florida, and sponsored by VALIC, this gathering is a place where state leaders share strategies and innovative programs. Listening to the collaborative discussions assured me that there are many committed leaders shining a light on our path.
Mid-afternoon, I was able to touch base with a few people in the hallways between meetings. I also had a chance to see a few vendors in the exhibit hall. Later in the afternoon, I spent time with colleagues at the Mentor Reunion Reception. This event is designed to reconnect principals who have gone through the NAESP’s Mentor Training Program. Mentoring our profession provides a path to give back to the principalship. It was great to see everyone!
If you, as a veteran principal, feel the calling to contribute to the next generation of principals, this is the avenue for you. With authentic sincerity, the Leadership Immersion Institute component of the Mentor Training Program has been THE most valuable professional development tool I have come across as a school principal.
Whew! What a busy day. I’m ready to kick back and relax. Tonight, I plan on having a casual meal and great conversations. A lovely lady at the Houston guide booth recommended three great (and casual) restaurants within walking distance of the convention center: The Grove on Lamar Street, The Lake House on McKinney Street, and Sambuca on Texas Avenue. I’ll be exploring one of these spots this evening. I also hope to see many of you at the LifeTouch-sponsored Welcome Reception tonight. It promises to be a good time!   Stay safe tonight and be sure to get your sleep. The first session on Saturday is at 7 a.m. sharp!

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