In a briefing Friday, October 12 at the Department of Education, principals and education officials shared their insights from this week's principal shadowing program. The initiative placed staff members from the Department of Education (ED) in the shoes of principals for a day to learn first-hand about the myriad challenges of leading schools.

"It was a wonderful day," said Laurie Calvert, teacher liason at ED who shadowed Sharon Baumgarten, principal of Little Run Elementary in Fairfax, Virginia. "Sharon is a true hero. She works to get great teachers in her building. ... She has wonderful learning teams that pick apart instruction to see how to integrate the Common Core."

At the briefing, Baumgarten and the other 29 elementary, middle, and high school principals who participated in the program shared their suggestions for how ED can support their work in schools, delving into accountability, high-stakes testing, teaching students with disabilities, and more. Over and over, principals called for support for professional development for their teachers.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan thanked the principals for participating in the shadowing day, the first event of its kind.

"I have yet to go to a great school without a great principal," he said, fielding questions about education funding and support for early learning. "There's no question that first and foremost, principals have to be able to be instructional leaders."

The shadowing program was jointly organized by NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Stay tuned this week for more from the program, including blog posts from participating principals.

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