Communicator - December 2012

Communicator

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Ways to Support the Sandy Hook Community
Reach out to the families of Newtown, Connecticut, with these ideas for encouragement. Read more

Resources to Help Your School Cope With Tragedy
These tips can help you restore normalcy in the wake of Friday’s events. Read more

Share Your Thoughts on NAESP’s Platform
Help NAESP stand up for principals by offering your feedback on education issues. Read more

National Leaders Conference Registration Now Open
The February event will focus on advocacy, membership, and leadership development. Read more

Going Green as a School Improvement Strategy
Former principal Jim McGrath argues the green school movement may provide solutions to many of the challenges principals face. Read more

Upcoming PD Opportunities: Brain-Based Strategies, Mentoring
Dive into professional learning in 2013 with a webinar and mentor training. Read more

Take Advantage of Early Bird Rates for 2013 Conference Early birds get the worm!
Register now for the premiere PD event for principals. Read more

President's Perspective: Reflections on a Principal Hero
NAESP President Mark Terry relates how any educator would protect the students they serve. Read more

Subscribe to the WowEd Newsletter
The newsletter of the Center for Educational Improvement explores relevant education topics. Read more

Join the American Student Council Association
Empower your student council with new activities and resources. Read more

Learn the Secrets of Hiring and Retain Excellent Teachers
New book from NAESP and Solution Tree explores how to find and keep great teachers. Read more

Complete the Leadership for the Common Core Survey
If you have received an invitation from NAESP, please complete the survey through the link in your invitation email. Read more

Grants, Opportunities, & Free Resources Learn about upcoming grant deadlines and get information about free resources that can be useful to your school. Read more

 

Ways to Support the Sandy Hook Community

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

The NAESP family continues to mourn the loss of life that resulted from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. As students in Newtown, Connecticut, headed back to school this week, many principals have asked how they and their schools can support Sandy Hook families and the community.

Vigils are being held throughout the week in Connecticut. Find a list of them here.

Messages of sympathy or condolences may be sent to:

Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700
Newtown, CT 06470

The Connecticut Parent Teacher Association is collecting paper snowflakes to decorate the new Sandy Hook Elementary building when students return in January. Visit the PTA Facebook page for more information. Send snowflakes to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

For those who wish to make a financial contribution, United Way of Western Connecticut, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, has created the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. The fund will provide support services to the families affected and the community. Donations may be made online, or mailed to:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street
Newtown, Connecticut 06470

A memorial fund for Dawn Lafferty-Hochsprung, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, has also been created. Visit www.WCTFCU.com for more information. Contributions may be mailed to:

Dawn Lafferty-Hochsprung Memorial Fund
Waterbury Connecticut Federal Teacher's Union
P.O. Box 2121
Waterbury, Connecticut 06722

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Resources to Help Your School Cope With Tragedy

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NAESP stands ready to help principals restore a sense of security in their buildings. These resources can help you address your school community in this emotionally-charged time, reinforcing safety and establishing a sense of normalcy.

Best Information For Parents: “Helping Children Cope With Tragedy” Report to Parents.

This ready-to-print, one-page article offers advice for families helping children cope with tragedy:

“Do something for others. One way to help children cope in the aftermath of a disaster is to find a way, through your community, to help those affected. Schools, churches, temples, synagogues, and organizations like the Red Cross are great places to go to find out how you and your children can help.”

Best Information for Staff: “Coping With Loss” Principal.

This magazine article offers advice for schools in supporting students and families during difficult times:

“Schools are an excellent site for the delivery of supportive services to grieving children and families. School personnel might be the only professionals in a position to offer timely advice on funeral attendance, or recommendations on how to help children understand death and cope with difficult feelings such as guilt. School staff can help parents find supports within the community.”

Best Information for Principals: “A Death in the Family” Principal.

This article is a reflection on how to deal with grief and loss as a school principal:

“I can’t recall ever feeling more proud of the work I do or the people with whom I do it. The saddest of circumstances brought us to the rarest of opportunities, and this faculty did not disappoint.”

Other Web Resources:

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Share Your Thoughts on NAESP’s Platform

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

Elementary and middle-level principals work tirelessly on behalf of the students of this nation. So, what should NAESP do to work on behalf of principals?

The NAESP Platform summarizes how principals believe education should function. NAESP advocacy staff works to support principals’ interests with members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education based on the belief statements included in the platform document.

Your representatives on the NAESP Resolutions Committee update the statements every November to accurately reflect the realities of your profession. The results of the committee’s diligent work this year are changes (edits, combinations, and deletions) to 38 resolutions.

Member feedback is critical to the resolution process. Members are asked to review the statements and offer comments and suggestions before January 23, 2013, by sending an email to advocacy@naesp.org.

The timeline to review the proposed resolutions is as follows:

The committee will present the proposed resolutions to the Delegate Assembly held in conjunction with the new National Leaders Conference, February 24-27, 2013.

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Going Green as a School Improvement Strategy

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

As a former principal, and someone who continues to be involved with K-12 education, I understand the challenges facing today’s school administrators.

Improving academic achievement, safeguarding student health and well-being, saving money and resources, updating and maintaining facilities, and identifying public and private resources and support add up to a formidable to-do list for today’s principals.

The welcome news is that the “greening” of our schools—a growing national movement that now includes thousands of K-12 private, public, and charter schools across the country—can provide solutions to many of these challenges.

Green Solutions

Concerned about improving student achievement? A recent survey by the University of Colorado-Denver of 100 “green” schools in 28 states found a positive correlation between student achievement in science and green school practices. These green practices, based on our Green Schools National Network GreenPrint core practices, included curriculum that advances environmental literacy and sustainability, opportunities for stewardship and service learning, sustainable facilities design and management, and an emphasis on student health and well-being.

Student achievement can also increase with building improvements alone. Students moving from a conventional school to a new green elementary school in Pennsylvania experienced substantial improvements in health and test scores, including a 19 percent increase in oral reading fluency scores. Students at Third Creek Elementary in Statesville, North Carolina, improved from less than 60 percent of students on grade level in reading and math to 80 percent of students on grade level in reading and math after moving into a new green school.

What about the financial impacts of a green school building? Studies have found that the benefits of building green appear quickly in the form of energy savings and decreased human resource costs related to staff turnover and employee absenteeism. Fossil Ridge High School, a LEED Certified school in Fort Collins, Colorado, saves $100,000 a year—enough to hire two new teachers, buy 150 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks. 

(Note: When principals tell me they can’t afford the costs associated with green buildings, I point out that the cost is an investment that pays dividends far into the future!)

Roadmap to Go Green

Proof that green schools can positively impact academics, student health, and a school’s financial health continue to mount as we approach the Green Schools National Network’s third annual Green Schools National Conference, set for Feb. 22-24, 2013, in West Palm Beach, Florida (www.greenschoolsnationalconference.org).

This conference will be more than merely a feel-good gathering of green-minded administrators, teachers, and students. Whether the topic is curriculum that advances environmental literacy and sustainability, recycling programs and organic foods on the cafeteria line, or improving indoor air quality, the “greening” of the nation’s schools points the way toward saving money, improving student health and achievement—and saving the planet in the process.

This movement that began as individual educators advocating the “greening” of our schools, now includes school boards that want initiatives to save energy costs, teachers who want curricula focused on environmental science and sustainability, and principals who desire students who are engaged, active learners. The green school movement has broad appeal.The movement has attracted wider attention and more mainstream acceptance in the past year, thanks to the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Program. Schools earning the designation have become role models and mentors for other schools.

Our February conference program will attract leaders of the movement as well as schools who have yet to commit to a green path. Whether your school is already green or just getting started, the conference will offer practical strategies and solutions, as we provide a “road map” for our conferees. The conference is only the first step for many.

In today’s K-12 environment, green surely is the way to go.

Jim McGrath, longtime NAESP member, is director of Green Schools National Network.

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

President's Perspective: Reflections on a Principal Hero

By Mark Terry
Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

Principal Dawn Hochsprung is a hero. She was a leader who was willing to lay down her life for children, the most precious treasures of Newtown, Connecticut. 

In the days since the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I have struggled to write a fitting tribute to Dawn and to the brave educators at Sandy Hook. Then it finally hit me—there are no words that come close to giving these true American heroes the honor they deserve. Principals throughout the nation and around the world have heavy hearts for the children of Newtown; for the teachers and educators who were ready and willing to pay the ultimate price in protecting those children; for the affected families, including parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents; and for the entire Newtown community.

Principals around the nation are experiencing sleepless nights. While our hearts cried for the Sandy Hook school community, our “principal souls” began to take stock of our own schools’ preparedness to protect our students. We asked ourselves:

We didn’t need to be directed to review our safety procedures. For many principals, that mental review began before the tragedy in Newtown had even ended. 

This week, a reporter asked me if I knew other principals and teachers who would do what Dawn Hochsprung and her teachers did, placing themselves in mortal danger. I was greatly offended. My answer was emphatic: “I don’t know one who wouldn't lay down their life for our kids!” 

Think about that statement. Do you know a principal who wouldn’t stand between a gunman and his or her kids? I know my colleagues and my teachers would have.  

Tomorrow, and every school day, principals will continue to lead schools in communities across the country: educating, nurturing, and protecting our kids. I say our “kids,” and not our “students,” because we love them, we care for their safety, and we stand ready to put ourselves between them and danger. 

From Texas to Alaska to Michigan to New York to Connecticut, principals—my friends and colleagues—are honoring Dawn Hochsprung and her staff. They paid a price no one should be required to pay. But, if their children were in danger, they would assuredly do it again.

Thank you, Principal Dawn Hochsprung. 

Mark Terry is president of NAESP and principal of Eubanks Intermediate School in Southlake, Texas.

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Subscribe to the Wow!Ed Newsletter

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

Wow!Ed is the newsletter of NAESP’s research center, the Center for Educational Improvement. Each issue is packed with the latest information on topics such as STEM, technology in schools, and global education. The December edition focuses on arts integration in elementary schools.  

Archived copies are available at http://www.edimprovement.org/newsletter-archive/

You can receive Wow!Ed directly by sending a request to info@edimprovement.org or cmason@naesp.org. Simply put yes! In the subject line.

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Join the American Student Council Association

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

The NAESP Foundation is happy to announce a new and improved American Student Council Association (ASCA) starting in January 2013. ASCA offers your student council advisors resources to strengthen your student council activities and help build student leadership. ASCA offers special member discounts and opportunities to network with other student council advisors across the nation, and has developed a new product line of brag tags, spirit sticks, and awareness bands. Your participation in ASCA gives you access to great ideas and national recognition through the Student Council Excellence Award. 

For more information, contact the NAESP Foundation at foundation@naesp.org.

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Learn the Secrets of Hiring and Retain Excellent Teachers

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

Finding—and keeping—the best teachers is one of a principal’s top responsibilities. The latest addition to the NPRC, How to Interview, Hire, and Retain High-Quality New Teachers, Third Edition offers best practices for doing that.

The authors, John Daresh, a professor of educational leadership, and Bridget Daresh, his daughter and a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, explore the key role of principals as leaders in the process of recruiting and retaining teachers. Comprehensive, and reader-friendly, this 104-page book weaves relevant information with thought-provoking “Questions to Consider” features. The conclusion, titled “What Teachers Want to Know” provides perspectives from teachers who have recently undergone the hiring process. Sample interview questions for both preschool and elementary teachers are included.

Here’s what some educators have to say about How to Interview, Hire, and Retain High-Quality New Teachers:

“There is no more important task in transforming education for students and schools than hiring and retaining top quality teachers. Every school and district leader should read this book to gain insight into the real challenges that new teachers face. Just as important are the myriad of practical and helpful tools that capture the essence of the rigor and complexity of teaching, such as time-saving lists of prewritten interview questions. Daresh and Daresh’s book will continue to prove indispensable for anyone who is determined to set the utmost standards in teacher quality.” –Debra Livingston, Superintendent of School, Fall Mountain Regional School District, Charlestown, New Hampshire

“How to Interview, Hire, and Retain High-Quality New Teachers is a must-have resource for aspiring or current principals who want to ensure the implementation of best practices before, during, and after the hiring of a teacher. The book is filled with practical strategies that are clearly defined and easy to replicate. Throughout the book there are Questions to Consider sections that can be used to promote reflection among principals about current hiring and induction practices and ways to improve these practices. We have been looking for a resource to use in our Preparing New Principals Program related to the topic of hiring quality teachers, and we have definitely found one. This book has been added to our current course of study. It is the best resource we have found to address our school leader competencies related to the recruitment, hiring, and induction of teachers.” –Tricia McManus, Director of Leadership Development, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

 

 

Complete the Leadership for the Common Core Survey

Communicator
December 2012, Volume 36, Issue 4

Let Your Voice Be Heard! Complete the Leadership for the Common Core National Survey

Completing this brief 15-minute survey funded by the Wallace Foundation will give you the chance to share your experience with implementing the Common Core State Standards in your district and to be entered into a drawing to win a $3,000 prize for materials and supplies in your school.

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Copyright © 2012. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.