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Secretary of Education Commends Principals, Receives Honorary NDP Award

October 2012, Volume 36, Issue 2

The celebration for this year’s National Distinguished Principals wrapped up Friday evening with an awards banquet at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Hilton Hotel.

Sponsored for nearly 25 years by VALIC, the banquet served as a capstone for the two-day celebration of this year’s class of NDPs. Honorees, who represent public and private elementary and middle schools from across the country, received the traditional NDP bell engraved with their names, as well as a congratulatory letter hand-signed by President Barack Obama.

At the event, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (pictured above, with NAESP President Mark Terry and NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly) delivered congratulatory remarks, and was honored himself with NAESP’s Honorary National Distinguished Principal (NDP) Award, an honor given to officials who demonstrate support for the principalship.

Duncan, who has said many times that great principals make great schools, called the honorees “extraordinary.”

“During these tough economic times, somehow principals are doing more with less,” he said. “Thank you for the example of service and commitment that you all show.”

In his remarks, Duncan went on to tout the importance of early childhood education, as well as principal preparation and support. Further, he said the Department needs to initiate a principal ambassador program to help decision-makers guide education policy.

NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly echoed Duncan’s support, calling the 60 principals exemplars of successful school leadership. “For more than 25 years, our National Distinguished Principals program has recognized the nation’s most accomplished principals—front-line champions for children—who vastly impact individual lives and strengthen schools,” she said. “We congratulate the NDPs for nurturing positive school culture that meets children’s social, emotional, and academic needs.”

NDP festivities kicked off Thursday, October 18 with reception at the National Archives, which gave principals the opportunity to explore the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. On Friday, October 19, NDPs were invited to a tour of the White House gardens, posing for a group photo before the famed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue lawn. Visit this recap page for more on this year's program.

Established in 1984, the NDP program recognizes public and private school principals who make superior contributions to their schools and communities.

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