NAESP and AASA Honor 2021 National Aspiring Principals Academy Graduates

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

September 28, 2021, Alexandria, Virginia—The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, are pleased to announce 14 emerging leaders completed 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.

The year-long, standards-based professional learning opportunity was led by highly skilled, nationally recognized educational leaders and mentors. Topics of focus included building professional learning communities, leading for equity, understanding governance, and addressing critical issues and trends.

“As schools nationwide pivot and reset to ensure equitable learning experiences during the pandemic, strong principal leadership has never been more important,” said NAESP Executive Director Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE. “We’re proud to partner with AASA to strengthen the principal pipeline and help prepare transformational leaders to ensure strong school communities in which each student thrives.”

“Principals across the country know that returning to the past is not an option for our schools as they create future-focused and culturally-vibrant learning communities on behalf of the students they serve,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “We are thrilled to work side-by-side with NAESP to strengthen the principal pipeline. Congratulations to our 2021 graduates for completing the prestigious National Aspiring Principals Academy process.”

NAESP and AASA congratulate these National Aspiring Principals Academy graduates:

  • Claudia Castillo, 5th grade teacher, Aspire Inskeep Academy, Los Angeles, CA
  • Hannah Feldman, Assistant Principal, Green Valley Elementary, Monrovia, MD
  • Frank Fraley, Assistant Principal, Cypress Woods High School, Cypress, TX
  • Siedah Holmes, Assistant Principal, David D. Jones Elementary, Greensboro, NC
  • Laura Hutchison, Literacy Coach, Rosebank STEAM Magnet School, Nashville, TN
  • Adaarema Kelly, Assistant Principal, Samuel Tucker Elementary, Alexandria, VA
  • Rachel Kooima, Lead Teacher, Aspire Inskeep Academy, Los Angeles, CA
  • Michelle Miller, Assistant Principal, Glenallen Elementary, North Port, FL
  • Gillian Spivey, Assistant Principal, Running Brook Elementary, Columbia, MD
  • Anthony Tsujisaka, Vice Principal, Fernando Rivera Intermediate School, Daly City, CA
  • Jay Wachtel, Principal, Naperville North High School, Naperville, IL
  • Jennifer Wiedenman, Assistant Principal, North Lakeland Elementary, Lakeland, FL
  • Amanda Yoshida, Dean of Instruction, Aspire Slauson Academy, Los Angeles, CA
  • She’Nee Young, Principal, Arizona Fleming Elementary, Houston, TX

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

  • Patricia Buck, Retired Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Dysart USD, Surprise, AZ
  • Jessica Gomez, Principal, Alice Birney Elementary, Colton, CA
  • Tracy Hilliard, Principal, Urbana Elementary, Frederick, MD
  • Rick Varney, Principal, John Cline Elementary, Decorah, IA

NAESP and AASA are recruiting participants for a second cohort which will run from October 2021 to June 2022. The academy application form, dates and other details are available at  For more information about the National Aspiring Principals Academy 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