6 Networking Takeaways from #NAESP19

Two principals give their perspectives on the positive effects of networking at NAESP conferences.
By Kelley Begley McCall and J. Kapuchuck
Communicator
July 2019, Volume 42, Issue 11

Three years ago, Kelley Begley McCall attended her first NAESP conference in Philadelphia—and she’s returned every year since. Here’s why.

As one of the cofounders of Moms As Principals, I believe in the power of being a connected educator. It is because of those connections that I have stayed in the role of principal. As I reflect back on this year’s conference, I can’t help but want to share why I believe the conference is a must for any leader.

  1. One of the true joys of going to the conference is meeting up with friends who you only know by their thumbnail profile picture or voice from Voxer. There’s nothing better than a hug and a face-to-face conversation with someone who feels like a long lost friend.
  2. Connected leaders have built strong relationships prior to coming to the conference and are much more willing to be vulnerable. When you trust your PLN, you are able to talk about your struggles and concerns. We all want to be the best leader for our schools, but without these types of conversations, we become stagnant. With vulnerability and trust, these conversations can pay off big for students.
  3. Knowing leaders outside of my home state has afforded me the opportunity to learn how other states are helping students and teachers be successful. It tears down the walls of education and allows for us to learn outside of our bubble.

In 2016, J. Kapuchuck attended his first NAESP conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Here’s why he keeps coming back.

It was at this conference I realized the importance of networking and becoming a connected principal. This is when I became an active Twitter and Voxer user as a way to connect with principals I met face to face. The personal connections made at this conference have pushed me to become a better principal, which ultimately has had a positive effect on my school, my community, and, most important, my students.

After attending my fourth NAESP conference this year, I would like to share why you should put this conference on your calendar for next year.

  1. Principal groups such as #PrincipalsInAction, #MomsAsPrincipals, and #DadsasPrincipals are so welcoming and helpful to all who would like to associate with them. They alleviate the feeling of isolation as a principal and give you a family that can assist you in your job as a principal.
  2. If you feel disconnected as a principal, the networking possibilities at the NAESP conference are like no other. You will meet and converse with outstanding educators and administrators from all across the country who are willing to share ideas and listen to yours. Then, by following these new friends on one of the many social media platforms, they become part of your principal family.
  3. The keynote speakers and concurrent sessions are always exceptional while attending a conference of this magnitude. However, a highlight for me each year are the conversations I have during lunch, dinner, or other social events. I have the opportunity to build positive, personal, and powerful relationships. This year, I even had some of those conversations while riding a gondola over the Spokane Falls or touring the city on an electric scooter.

If you work in education, join us July 12-14, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. Becoming a connected principal has been the best decision we have made in our administrative careers. By networking with exceptional educators from across the country, your potential becomes limitless. We hope to see you next year in Louisville.

Kelley Begley McCall is principal of Clear Creek Elementary in De Soto, Kansas, and J. Kapuchuck is principal of Plains Elementary in Timberville, Virginia.

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