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The Principals' Office Blog

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  http://www.maranausd.org/DG/Parents/readathon.html.

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 profession....so, 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 http://web.naesp.org/convNews/ 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.

Urban Teachers, Principals Have High Expectations and Respect for Students

A majority of urban teachers and building administrators hold high expectations for students and care whether students are successful, according to a national survey conducted by the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education. However, the survey also found that nearly one-third of teachers and nearly 16 percent of administrators agree that students at their schools are not motivated to learn.  Nearly one-quarter of teachers also agree that most students at their school would not be successful at a community college or university. On the other hand, only 7 percent of principals and assistant principals agree with that statement.

The survey report, Where We Teach, outlines findings from 12 urban school districts in 10 states. The survey’s findings are grouped under eight areas: bullying; expectations of success; influence of race; professional climate; professional development; parental involvement; safety; and trust, respect, and ethos of caring.

NAESP, NASSP, NEA, and AFT collaborated on the study’s recommendations. The full report, Where We Teach, can be downloaded at www.nsba.org.

Soar to Seattle

In less than two weeks, thousands of principals will “Soar to Seattle” for NAESP’s 86th Annual Convention and Exposition (March 29-April 2) at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Some of the highlights of this year’s Convention include keynote speakers Jonathan Kozol, Marian Wright Edelman, and Erin Gruwell; the presentation of NAESP’s inaugural Read Aloud Award; the release of NAESP’s 2007 fundraising survey results; and sessions on issues important to principals, including No Child Left Behind, school leadership, interpreting data, early childhood education, and technology. For further information about the Convention, visit www.naesp.org

Is More Daylight Worth the Payoff?

Have you recovered from your lost hour of sleep? In accordance with the new federal law, daylight-saving time started three weeks earlier this year.  And though most of us welcome the extra overall daylight, some school administrators worry about children’s safety as they travel to school in the dark.  Add to that the fact that testing times started this week for many districts—and students could use the extra sleep—and that hour will be missed even more sorely.   

More Evidence Points to the Need for High-Quality After-School Programs

A new report by the New Hampshire State Afterschool Task Force evaluates the effectiveness of after-school programs in elementary and middle schools. The report provides evidence that academically focused after-school programs cause students to improve both academically and behaviorally. NAESP’s publication Leading After-School Learning Communities: What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do, also provides evidence of the benefits of high-quality after-school programs, the importance of a seamless school day, and the roles that principals—and others who lead after-school programs—have in ensuring academically enriching environments for children.  Ten case studies of high-quality after-school programs were featured in NAESP’s book, Making the Most of After-school Time.

Are Private Schools Better than Public Schools?

In the March/April issue of Principal magazine (Can Public Education Survive?) Henry Braun, the Boisi Professor of Education and Public Policy at Boston College's Lynch School of Education, tackles the private schools vs. public schools debate. Braun applies a different assessment model for analyzing NAEP data for students in grades 4 and 8 and shares some surprising results.

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