Celebrate the Nation’s Top Principals and Assistant Principals

NAESP will recognize NAESP National Distinguished Principals and National Outstanding Assistant Principals at this year’s conference.

This year’s conference brings a special treat: Talented elementary and middle-level principals from across the nation and abroad will be honored as NAESP National Distinguished Principals® (NDPs) and National Outstanding Assistant Principals (NOAPs). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, NAESP did not hold its annual NDP celebration and gala in Washington, D.C., and is holding them instead in Chicago at the 2021 NAESP Pre-K-8 Principals Conference.

“These recognition programs have become an important thread in the fabric that makes up NAESP,” said NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE. “That’s why it’s fitting to honor NDPs and NOAPs during the annual conference that marks this association’s 100th anniversary.”

Alabama National Outstanding Assistant Principal Aqila Malpass (left) pictured with Alabama National Distinguished Principal Dilhani Uswatte (right)

The celebration is especially sweet for first-time NAESP conference attendees Dilhani Uswatte and Aqila Malpass. Uswatte, who is principal of Rocky Ridge Elementary School in Alabama, and Malpass, assistant principal at the same school, are attending the conference as a leadership team. Both will be recognized at the conference—Uswatte as the 2020 National Distinguished Principal for Alabama and Malpass as that state’s 2020-2021 National Outstanding Assistant Principal.

Both school leaders are excited to hear from the keynote speakers, including Baruti Kafele. Uswatte counts Kafele as a friend, and Malpass has listened to his podcasts and videos.

“The person I don’t know as well but want to see is Dr. Ruby Payne,” said Uswatte. “I’ve read so much of her work but have never heard her speak.”

Malpass says that she is eager to take notes at the sessions. “I’m a big note-taker; I’m eager to get all the nuggets from all of the people,” she said.

How will the two divide and cover the nearly 70 conference sessions?

“I’m sure that we will wind up doing some sessions that are the same, but typically when we go to PD, we look at the program and decide what speaks to our own interests. Sometimes it’s the same sessions; sometimes it isn’t,” said Malpass.

Celebrate With the Honorees

Here’s how to take part in honoring NDPs and NOAPs during the conference:

  • NDPs will be recognized on Friday, July 9, from 4:15-5:45 p.m., in the Grand Ballroom. Learn more about your state’s awardee here.
  • NOAPs will be recognized on Saturday, July 10 at closing keynote session, from 9:45-11:30 a.m., in the Grand Ballroom. Learn more about your state’s awardee here.