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President’s Perspective - January 2011

Rising Tides
by Barbara Chester, NAESP President
January 2011, Volume 34, Issue 5

‘Tis the season for crystal-ball gazing, especially about the economy. Newspapers and magazines, radio and television, and the Internet are jammed-packed with pundits who offer their opinion about the economy and what its daily ups and downs mean to everyday Americans like you and me. The more I listen to their prognostications, the more certain I am that the “experts” are as unsure as we are!

One thing I do know about the economy is that every tremor has the potential to rattle my school district’s budget. As a public employee, I know that the financial well-being of my district is inexorably linked to the financial well-being of my state. In such uncertain times, I look for ways to strengthen my career, one of my most precious assets. I bet you do too. 

There’s no better career investment than my membership in NAESP and my state affiliate, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) and its elementary division, OESPA. For a few cents a day—literally—I have access to the national resources, the information, the insight, and the colleagues I need to lead my school, mentor teachers, support children, and engage with parents and families. From Principal magazine to Report to Parents, a focused advocacy initiative to the Annual Convention and Exposition, and the legal benefits protection program to Before the Bell, I rely on NAESP to keep me informed, protect my interests, connect me with my colleagues, and support the profession.

And my state affiliate offers equally high-value services and benefits, including professional development programs, state networking, and grassroots advocacy. I can’t imagine trying to navigate the principalship without these two associations by my side. Together, they help me sharpen my skills, build knowledge, and gain insight as a practicing principal. The value I receive as an individual is enormous.

But being part of NAESP and COSA has always been more important than the “what’s in it for me” calculation. I have come to realize that when my individual membership is combined with all of your individual memberships, we generate clout for the entire profession. We are stronger together than we are separately. Our vitally important profession is made stronger still when we bond together in common purpose—ensuring that every boy and girl in the United States has an equal opportunity to learn to his and her fullest potential. This bond in common purpose is the “what’s in it for us” calculation.

President John F. Kennedy often quoted this adage about the power of common purpose: A rising tide, he said, lifts all boats. Similarly, our strong national and state association lifts all principals. Consider these NAESP initiatives that lift us all: 

  1. An informed, strong, and steadfast voice in Washington, D.C., championing our interests, advocating for the principalship, and standing up for all children;
  2. Professional standards published in Leading Learning Communities, which codify and support what principals should know and be able to do;
  3. Research and analysis in the critical area of early childhood education with the goal of strengthening the transition from pre-K to the primary grades;
  4. Greater public awareness of what we do and why our work matters in our society;
  5. A celebration of excellence in the National Distinguished Principals program;
  6. Support for novice professionals via the National Mentor Program; and
  7. A code of ethics developed by principals for principals to set standards and principles of practice for the profession.

As you join or renew with NAESP, the only national professional organization just for elementary and middle-level principals, you probably have a pretty good idea of “what’s in it for you” and so find it clear-cut to make the important investment in your own career. I hope you’ll also reflect on the “what’s in it for us” calculation, and make an equally important investment in our great profession.

NAESP is fighting to ensure that all elementary and middle-level principals have the resources and support they need to help every child get access to a high-quality education. Join us in this noble endeavor.

Editor’s Note: NAESP is proposing a dues increase effective July 2011. Join or renew today at the 2010 rate.

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