NAESP Honors Distinguished Principals With a Two-Day Celebration

Between assisting their teachers, managing bus schedules, and meeting with parents, it’s not often that principals are able to stop and be recognized for all that they do. That’s why it was a privilege for NAESP to host the 2015 National Distinguished Principals (NDP) Awards program, held October 15-16 in Washington, D.C. The awards program provided an opportunity for the best and brightest principals from across the country to share their wisdom and celebrate each other’s successes.


NDPs visiting the State Department

The two-day event began in downtown Washington at the Capitol Hilton Hotel with introductions from each distinguished principal. Many expressed how grateful they were to learn that they had been recognized for their achievements, and shared insights on how they made a difference at their schools. Though the principals had a diverse range of experiences and distinct paths to success, their focus always remained on serving their students. Wyoming NDP Brenda Creel said it perfectly: “It’s all about the relationships with the children.”

After the introductions, NDPs were treated to a reception at the U.S. Department of State, where they were welcomed with remarks from Undersecretary of Administration Patrick Kennedy, and Director of the Office of Overseas Schools, Keith Miller.


Russel Quaglia speaking to NDPs

Always ready to learn, the next day saw NDPs gathering back at the Capital Hilton to hear from top education leaders from across the country. Russel Quaglia of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations gave a thoughtful presentation on the importance of student voice in principal leadership. NDPs later listened to principals in the Department of Education’s Principal Ambassador Fellowship program, and how their experiences influenced not only how they lead, but how policymakers make their decisions.

The day was capped with an awards banquet, where the NDPs were officially recognized. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan provided a video offering his sincere congratulations to the principals for their passion and dedication: “I’ve learned that principals bring a unique and powerful voice to the table, and one that must be heard and listened to carefully,” said Duncan. “The positive impact that you have had in shaping the lives of your students deserves to be celebrated not just this evening, but every single day.”

With the ceremonies drawing to a close, each principal was awarded a bell engraved with their name to commemorate their achievement. As is tradition, NAESP President Robyn Conrad Hansen asked the NDPs to ring them in unison “on behalf of all the children we serve.” Needless to say, these servants of students were more than happy to oblige:

Established in 1984 and sponsored by VALIC for over 25 years, the NDP program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. Read about each state’s honorees here.

Click below for more photos of the days' events:

Thursday, October 15

Friday, October 16