Your Stories, Your Messages, Your Impact
Diane Cargile, NAESP President
Communicator, Vol. 33, No. 10, June 2010

Since becoming your president in July 2009, I have been proud to take your charge to lead in the advocacy of advancing NAESP’s agenda to support principals as strong instructional leaders who promote and ensure excellence in their schools. It’s been an exhilarating year, chock full of opportunities to tell your stories. Never before in the history of our country have educators had an opportunity to make a difference in leveraging their influence in their communities. This is a new day in America, a new day for educators, and an unprecedented opportunity for NAESP to advance the “Power of the Principal.”

As your president, you have given me the authority and autonomy to represent you at the federal, state, and local levels. It’s been my privilege to do so and to share your stories at all levels of policymaking. During the past 12 months, I have greatly appreciated your openness, passion, and commitment to your schools, and I have attempted to take on your enthusiasm and dedication as my own so I could better convey your stories with policymakers at all levels. Your stories have made a profound and positive difference in NAESP’s efforts to influence legislation, regulations, and proposals on your behalf and on behalf of your students and schools.

In addition to being your spokesperson, I’ve also had many opportunities to represent you in person, which has been a very powerful experience. Whenever I visit Capitol Hill, I visit the offices of my community’s elected representatives to share NAESP’s position on a wide range of issues, from the importance of the principal’s role as instructional leader to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—relationship-building that each of you has with congressional leaders from your states. You know them through your churches, clubs, and social outings; you educate their children and interact with their families; you share hometown roots, values, friends, and colleagues.

It’s exactly these interactions and connections that make such a difference, lead to greater understanding, and result in shared goals and mutual respect. Through your outreach, elected leaders can become our friends and advocates at the national level. They need to know you, your challenges, and your thoughts so they can make the best decisions about education. They simply can’t do that without input from us, the educators who are in schools and interacting with children, day in and day out. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Advance the positive image of school principals through the news media.
  • Share your voice through your own blog; contribute to NAESP’s blog, “The Principals’ Office;” use NAESP’s social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn); or visit What’s Your Story?, a new feature on NAESP’s Web site.
  • Invite elected leaders to visit your schools and see first-hand how effective schools—and strong principals—operate.
  • Establish partnerships with community leaders who have resources that can improve teaching and learning in your school.
  • Make sure your superintendent supports professional development for principals.
  • Establish a mentor program by drawing on the talents and experiences of valued leaders who have retired from the principalship.

In the past 12 months, I’ve also had the opportunity to convey the power of the principalship and the importance of your stories in conversations with members of the media on issues as wide-ranging as corporal punishment, multigrade groupings, recess coaches, school supplies, and a myriad of other topics.

As my year as president comes to an end, our journey together as colleagues continues—and our collective story-telling must continue as well. Woven together, our stories create a blueprint for action and advocacy that strengthens the profession and supports us all. I look forward to continuing our journey together as we advance the Power of the Principal! Thank you for the support you’ve shown me, for all you do for the principalship, for NAESP and your state organization, and most important, for children.

Copyright © 2010. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or Web site may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.