An Epic Principal Road Trip Ed-venture

NAESP President Eric Cardwell left Sept. 13 for a two-week, 4,500-mile road trip to visit with school leaders and find out what keeps them up at night and what works for them in their schools.
September 2018, Volume 42, Issue 1

NAESP President Eric Cardwell left Sept. 13 for a two-week, 4,500-mile road trip to visit with school leaders. He talked with them about what keeps them up at night and what works for them in their schools.

Starting in his home state of Michigan, Cardwell headed south on a principal road trip that took him to 28 schools, where he met with principals, teachers, superintendents, and students. And they had a lot to say. Here are some of their stories.

Lessons from Rural U.S.

Randy Schaedig, who leads the Les Cheneaux Community Schools in Cedarville, Michigan, said his district has been working to overcome understaffing in schools, especially when it comes to recruiting math teachers. Schaedig attributes this to stagnant wages and the loss of teacher pensions in the state.

Because of this, teachers wear many hats when it comes to filling the open positions in their schools. And Schaedig is no exception, having served as K–12 principal and superintendent up until this school year. But he credits his staff with always stepping forward to meet the challenges that arise.

To support his faculty, Schaedig works hard to be a champion for continued Title II funding in his school, citing how important professional development and a content coach have been to his faculty.


Tales of a First-Year Administrator

Engadine Consolidated Schools in Engadine, Michigan, are led by 7–12 principal Josh Reed. As a new administrator in his first full year as principal, Reed has enthusiasm for this position. But there are challenges. One that tops the list is attracting art, music, and science teachers to the district—a trend that’s progressed over the past couple of years. As he works to navigate his new position, he knows how important striking a work-life balance is, so he takes it all in stride, saying he listens to music to help him stay balanced.

Overcoming Challenges in Wisconsin

Living the dream along the Mississippi River, Dirk Hunter serves as principal of Summit Environmental School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. But it’s not always as picture-perfect as it seems. Hunter has challenges in his school, too, and a big one is not having enough substitute teachers.

But running a school that recently was rebranded with an emphasis on environmental sciences, it’s not all bad. The school created state and federal partnerships to enrich the curriculum. Students also got to design an outdoor space at the school. How’s that for engagement?

American Melting Pot in Indiana

Perry Township Schools in Indianapolis has 71 languages spoken in the school district. (Yes, you read that right.) A quintessential melting pot, students come from 63 countries—and it’s a growing trend, with 18 English language learners in the district in 1998 increasing to almost 5,000 in 2017.

More than 3,200 of the district’s 16,608 students are refugees. Because of this, Clinton Young Elementary principal Andrea Korreck knows additional funding is critical in her district as they work to offer support to students as they acclimate to a new country.

The school is full of a sense of community, with an “I am a wonder because …” board, where students write what they’re proudest of about themselves. From “I help my mom speak English” to “I am a good friend,” this school works hard to send a message of inclusion.

This is only a sampling of the stories from Cardwell’s road trip. Visit the NAESP website or check out #PrincipalRoadTrip on Twitter to read more.

Copyright © 2018. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website 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.