Celebrate Kids, Support Professionals

Reflecting and recalibrating at the end of a challenging school year.

Topics: School Culture and Climate

L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE

End-of-the-year promotions represent the celebration of a collective effort to prepare our kids for the future. We’ve endeavored all year long to ensure every child feels accepted, believes they can succeed, and builds the critical skills they need to thrive in a diverse world.

But promotions and year-end celebrations don’t apply to students alone. They also shine a light on the significant impact of principals, teachers, and educational staff in helping prepare children to succeed in our ever-changing world.

This year, schools addressed disrupted learning, used trauma-informed practices to address a mental health crisis, recentered equity in their priorities, and cultivated relationships with families and communities. They did everything within their power to set students up for success—and succeed they did, even if it might have looked a little different from years past.

We’re proud of the students—and our educators, too. We’ve heard from many members that this school year was unexpectedly the hardest since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. If you felt that way, know that you are not alone. And know that we see how much you put into building a school environment that—despite all of the challenges—celebrates student success and growth, connects the community, and supports faculty and staff under less-than-ideal circumstances.

A Critical Time

Kids thrive when their schools, educators, and school professionals have the support and resources they need to be successful. After kids and families experience promotion and start their summer breaks, school principals get to work preparing for the next year, incorporating the lessons they learned from this school year into the next. Always evolving and adapting, school leaders will take advantage of the summer months to prep the building, shore up staffing, and refresh and engage in professional learning.

To do this, they need more education funding—something the public supports, too. According to an AP-NORC poll conducted in March, 65 percent of adults think that the U.S. government is spending too little on education. We agree. Education funding has long been a top priority at NAESP, and it’s needed more urgently now than ever.

During the National School Leaders Advocacy Conference, hosted  jointly by NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals in late March, principals converged on Capitol Hill, armed with stories from their schools that show why additional federal funding is so important. This kind of advocacy has a direct impact on all challenges schools are facing right now, whether it’s the lack of mental health supports for students and staff, dwindling funding for educators’ professional development, ensuring schools are safe havens for all students, or addressing staffing shortages and the shrinking principal pipeline.

This is a critical time in education, and together, we must advocate for what our students and schools need to succeed—and that starts with the educator pipeline.

Thank you for your hard work during this school year. As you look to a new year full of new possibilities, we’ll be standing by to support you.

Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE, is executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Celebrate #WeAre2023
May 1–June 16 is graduation and grade promotion season. During this time, join me in celebrating and highlighting our kids’ achievements, and in recognizing the significant impact of principals, educators, counselors, administrators, and educational staff in helping prepare kids for their next steps in our ever-changing world. Visit learningfirst.org/graduation-grade-promotion for ways that you can help celebrate and support our kids.