Bulletin Board: Support

Principal, September/October 2020. Volume 100, Number 1.

The Next Generation of Student Leaders

This year, build community at your school with a student council chapter. The American Student Council Association (ASCA), founded by NAESP in 1987, is a national program that recognizes and supports student councils across the nation for making a difference in their schools and communities. ASCA activities such as school spirit events, fundraisers, and community outreach activities benefit all students in a school community. 
Here are three additional ways ASCA can help your students thrive:

  1. By teaching skills outside the academic curriculum, such as leadership, civic responsibility, and organization and planning;
  2. By sharing students’ ideas, interests, and concerns with teachers, principals, and district administrators; and
  3. By creating positive role models for all students in the school.

ASCA is intended for student councils in grades 4–8. A membership includes:

  • One year of online access to the ASCA website, with guides for starting a council, student handouts, election information, sample documents, a project database, and awards;
  • Discounts in the student council online store; and
  • The opportunity to apply to be recognized as a Council of Excellence.

Winning Project Ideas

ASCA gives students the opportunity to branch out beyond the school walls. Every year, top councils receive the ASCA Student Council of Excellence Award for making a difference in their schools and communities.

Community service is a big project area for ASCA students. For the 2019–2020 school year, Hanalani Schools in Mililani, Hawaii, organized a visit to the Wahiawa General Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Together, students and residents created Thanksgiving centerpieces, sang songs, and played bingo. By openly communicating with the center’s elderly residents, the students learned the importance of human kindness and connection.

ASCA students also work to improve school spirit. Mauriceville Elementary School in Orange, Texas, created a school beautification project to address this challenge. The students solicited a donation of large river rocks—enough for every student and staff member to decorate—from a local nursery. A local landscaping company donated its time and equipment to dig a paw shape into the school’s landscaping and line it with the decorated rocks.

Every fall, ASCA students throughout the country take part in the annual End Veteran Homelessness Challenge. Members team up to collect money, household goods, and clothing for homeless and at-risk veterans. The program is a joint project of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ homeless programs office, NAESP, and ASCA. One year, schools collected nearly $7,000 worth of items, including 881 toothbrushes, 428 tubes of toothpaste, and 557 bars of soap and bottles of body wash.


Childhood Hunger During the Longest Summer

No Kid Hungry recently released “The Longest Summer: Childhood Hunger in the Wake of Coronavirus,” a new research-​driven report that gives insight into how families are coping with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and how the ongoing crisis has changed public opinion toward nutrition programs that help fight hunger. Among the findings in No Kid Hungry’s “Longest Summer” report:

The pandemic has forced many families to make sacrifices to afford enough food, including parents skipping meals (51percent), making meals with limited options (66 percent), and skipping other bills such as utilities or rent in order to afford food (39 percent).

Widespread unemployment and hunger have made Americans more supportive of the programs that can help: 76 percent believe SNAP funding should be maintained or increased, and 39 percent are more supportive of SNAP than they were before the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, more are aware of the importance of school meals programs: 75 percent of parents said COVID-19 made them realize how important school meals are to families, and 70 percent of parents said COVID-19 made them realize that more kids rely on school meals than they were previously aware of.


Hot Topics

Principal magazine is your one-stop shop for research-based best practices and leadership strategies. Here’s a sneak peek at the topics we will cover this school year.

  • Literacy Instruction: Proficiency in reading by third grade is crucial to students’ academic and future success, but it can be challenging to create a literacy program that balances phonics and comprehension instruction appropriately for the individual student. How much do principals need to know about reading instruction to ensure that every student reaches his or her literacy goals, and how can they enlist parents in the effort beyond the classroom?
  • Leadership Teams: Principals have a lot to handle, but they need to know how to ask for help in order to lead effectively. Sharing leadership tasks with assistant principals and teacher leaders can ease the burden of running a school and directing its curriculum, as well as prepare new leaders for the principalship. And by evaluating data and performance regularly, principals can better know what strategies and which staff are making an impact. 
  • A Gender Lens: How can women excel in leadership roles, and how can all principals recognize and accept gender differences and use them to a school’s advantage? This issue will explore education through the lens of gender, including teaching, learning, and leadership styles; student discipline and unconscious bias; and creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ students.
  • Brain Research and Social-Emotional Learning: Healthy brain development depends upon social relationships, emotional experiences, and cognitive opportunities, and if a learning environment can supply all three stimuli at opportune moments, children will thrive. Placing every student’s social and emotional development at the center of instruction can help them manage their own learning goals—and build brains that can process new information flexibly and efficiently.

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