NAESP and AASA Honor 2020 National Aspiring Principals Academy Graduates

Twenty emerging leaders from across the nation have acquired the essential skills needed to advance to the next level of school leadership.

July 14, 2020—The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, are pleased to announce the first cohort of 20 emerging leaders to complete the National Aspiring Principals Academy (NAPA). The professional learning program, led by the two groups, is designed to support aspiring principals in acquiring the essential knowledge, skills, and practices needed to advance to the next leadership level.

Highly skilled, nationally recognized educational leaders and mentors facilitated this year-long, standards-based professional learning opportunity. The leaders focused on topics like providing feedback, building professional learning communities, supervision, and addressing critical issues and trends.

“Principal leadership is especially important during this time of turmoil and uncertainty as schools and communities grapple with the impact of coronavirus, school closures, and as the nation experiences a collective reckoning regarding racial inequality,” said NAESP Executive Director Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE. “We’re proud to partner with AASA to help prepare transformational principals to ensure strong school communities in which each student thrives.”

“During these challenging times, school district leaders as well as building leaders are faced with revitalizing education to make learning equitable, engaging, and authentic for all students,” said AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech. “AASA joins NAESP in congratulating the outstanding educators who completed the National Aspiring Principals Academy. We wish them the best as they work toward enhancing their careers on behalf of the children in their communities.”

NAESP and AASA congratulate these NAPA graduates:

  • Alaaddin Akgul, Principal, River City Science Academy Mandarin, Jacksonville, FL
  • Cristy Bauer, Assistant Principal, Brown Deer Middle School, Brown Deer, WI
  • Carrie Coats, Assistant Principal, Big Hollow Middle School, Mchenry, IL
  • Valerie Collins, Assistant Principal, Millbrook Elementary School, Aiken, SC
  • Delores Crawford, Principal, Button Gwinnett Elementary School, Hinesville, GA
  • Garrett Dukette, Principal, Baldwin Middle School, Canterbury, CT
  • Mesut Erdogan, Principal, River City Science Academy Innovation, Jacksonville, FL
  • April Friedman, Assistant Principal, Bedwell Elementary School, Bernardsville, NJ
  • Kelly Lam, Assistant Principal, Brown Deer Middle High School, Brown Deer, WI
  • Valarie Lawson, Principal, Waldo Pafford Elementary School, Hinesville, GA
  • Mary Beth Libro, Teacher, Ocean City Primary School, Ocean City, NJ
  • McRae Mangum, Principal, Lyman Hall Elementary School, Hinesville, GA
  • Katie Mason, Teacher, Mason County Middle School, Maysville, KY
  • Max O’Casey, Assistant Principal, Felix V. Festa Middle School, West Nyack, NY
  • D. John Potter, Assistant Principal, Pryor Junior/Middle School, Pryor, OK
  • Melanie Rosenberger, Assistant Principal, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, Midland, PA
  • Richard Russell, Assistant Principal, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, Midland, PA
  • Antwayne Sanders, Assistant Principal, Parklane Elementary School, East Point, GA
  • Luther Sewell, Assistant Principal, River Terrace Education Campus, Washington DC
  • Debra Wingate, Principal, Taylors Creek Elementary School, Hinesville, GA

Eric Cardwell and Gail Pletnick facilitated NAPA, and program mentors included:

  • Jessica Gomez, Principal, Alice Birney Elementary School
  • Tracy Hilliard, Principal, Urbana Elementary School
  • John Quinn, Principal, Clara Barton Elementary School

NAESP and AASA are recruiting participants for a second cohort, which will run from August 2020 to June 2021. The academy application form, dates and other details are available at For more information about NAPA, contact Dr. Gracie Branch, NAESP’s associate executive director, Professional Learning, at

Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals in the United States and internationally. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning through policy and professional learning, advocacy, programs, and resources for effective instructional leadership. For more information about NAESP, please visit

About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit