Back to School Toolkit

NAESP Back to School

A message from NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D. CAE

Students might be enjoying the final weeks of summer, but principals and their teams are hard at work preparing for the new school year. This Back-to-School Toolkit will help guide your interactions with students, staff, and families at the start of the year. Find fact sheets to share with staff and families, school-project funding opportunities, and professional development ideas, as well as resources on topics such as attendance, home visits, and connected leadership. Early career and veteran principals alike will find this information useful.

Project Funding

NAESP and DonorsChoose are teaming up to help principals support their teachers get projects funded on Encourage your teachers to post projects on DonorsChoose. from September 2019 thru June 2020.

Each month, NAESP and DonorsChoose will award two DonorsChoose gift cards of $500 to fund a school project. 

To be eligible for the drawing, teachers should include the keyword “NAESP” in their About Your Project essays, such as “I teach at an NAESP-member school,” or include at the bottom of the essay “Reference ID: NAESP.”

NAESP will announce winners each month in the Communicator e-newsletter and on social channels. Winners will be featured in NAESP communications and are required to submit photos and a blog post. 

Not an NAESP member? No problem. Join now so that your school can become eligible to enter the drawing to win a $500 gift card from NAESP and

Principal Toolkit from DonorsChoose

NAESP partner DonorsChoose designed this toolkit for public school principals who want to learn more about DonorsChoose and encourage their teachers to take full advantage of our platform. You’ll find information about DonorsChoose practices and policies, the answers to frequently asked questions, examples of ways leaders like you have helped their teachers benefit, and training materials for your teachers. 

Supplementing the Budget: Online Fundraising to Support School Initiatives

If you had access to an unlimited budget, what resources would you request to take your school to the next level? Come learn how to better leverage, the nonprofit crowdfunding platform built exclusively to support K–12 public schools, to get materials and experiences to help your students learn and revolutionize your school. This session will cover how your teachers can get free resources, field trips, and professional development opportunities thanks to a national community of donors and highlight the critical role principals play in that process.

Kirk SmileyPresenters: Kirk Smiley, Principal Director, Advocacy and Public Partnerships, Kirk Smiley leads's work with school districts, state leaders, and education associations, helping them leverage the award-winning charity to serve their educational priorities and bring substantial support to teachers and students. He's presented to thousands of district administrators, including at national and state-level AASA, ASBO, NSBA, NSFA, and ISTE conferences. He previously spent 10 years managing corporate and foundation partnerships at and joined back in 2007, originally directing their Indiana statewide expansion. Kirk graduated with honors from Purdue with B.A. degrees in English Literature and Religious Studies, a B.S. in Management, and an MBA from the Krannert School of Management. Coming from a long lineage of public school educators, he is honored to be helping thousands of teachers and students through Danielle RoweDanielle Rowe, New School for Social Research. Danielle works to deepen relationships with school district administrators across the country. A New York native, Danielle is a proud product of public school education. As a former educator, Danielle understands how limited resources can negatively affect educational outcomes and is committed to promoting educational equity and eliminating the achievement gap. An alumna of AmeriCorps, Danielle holds a BA from Fordham University in History and African American Studies. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy and Non-Profit Management at the New School for Social Research.

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Professional growth is a continuous process, but the beginning of the school year is always a good time to look for ways to improve your practice and your school. Check out these professional learning resources from NAESP for some inspiration:

NAESP Center for Innovative Leadership

The first of its kind, The Center for Innovative Leadership Video Podcast focuses on the challenges, successes, and innovations of an everyday principal. Join Hamish Brewer and Andy Jacks as they chat with school leaders from across the country about the outstanding and innovative work they are doing.

Back-to-school articles:

Presentations from #NAESP19

Improve Attendance

Regular school attendance is a major factor in student success. Those with chronic absenteeism are more likely to fall behind in reading, score lower on standardized tests, not graduate high school, and not attend college. To improve attendance, it takes a village—of students, families, faculty, and administrators all stepping in to make a difference. These resources can help you work toward improving your students' attendance rates:

Teacher attendance has an effect on student success, too. It's just as important as making sure students come to class. Here are ways to ensure regular teacher attendance.

This year, NAESP is proud to partner with Attendance Works—a national and state initiative that pushes for better policy and practice to improve school attendance—to spread the word about the effect chronic absence has on students. Join us in September as we celebrate Attendance Awareness Month. Attendance works offers helpful resources on the following topics: 
  • Positive Engagement: Find attendance videos, exercises, incentives, messaging, posters and banners, handouts for families, student attendance success plans, teen and family plans, and resources to help with spring attendance slumps.
  • Actionable Data: Find data tools to calculate chronic absence and classroom attendance as well as data to help protect student privacy.
  • Building Capacity: Find information on addressing barriers, self-assessments, teaching attendance curriculum, webinars, and yearlong planning documents.

Student Support

A Hunger to Learn

Every school stakeholder hopes that students arrive each day with a hunger to learn. However, far too many students miss out on a morning meal, resulting in hunger for food, not knowledge. When schools make breakfast part of the school day, just like lunch, students succeed. These resources are a great place to start if you’re looking to add breakfast into your classroom routine.

Warmth, Care, and Hunger Project is a crowdsourcing options for teachers to fund projects in their classrooms. But it doesn’t stop there. Projects posted in the Warmth, Care, and Hunger category aren’t tied to the classroom; instead, they help make sure your students come to school their healthiest, happiest selves.

Here are some examples of projects that fall into the Warmth, Care, and Hunger category:

  • Hygiene products like combs, toothbrushes, floss, and deodorant;
  • Day-to-day clothing items or winter apparel like coats, shoes, socks, hats, gloves, rain gear, and sleeping bags;
  • Meals to send home with your students for evenings and weekends; and
  • Visitors to your classroom to care for your students, like lice screenings or flu shots.

Find a full list of projects you could implement in your school to help students succeed.

Student Leadership

Start the year off with student learning and leadership in mind by bolstering student skills, such as leadership, civic responsibility, and organization and planning, outside of the academic curriculum.

  • Student Council: Build the next generation of leaders by establishing a chapter of the American Student Council Association (ASCA) at your school. All students in the school benefit from school spirit events, fundraisers, and community engagement. NAESP members receive a $25 discount for a year’s membership. Find out more at

2019–2020 Calendar

Keep track of programs, events, and observances with this downloadable 2019–2020 NAESP Calendar.