President’s Perspective: Reflections on Service to the Principalship

By Mark J. White
June 2015, Volume 38, Issue 10

As I have traveled this spring on your behalf, it has been very clear to me that the job of the building principal continues to be a challenging, yet very rewarding experience. The principals I’ve met have been challenged with spring testing, end-of-year accountability, educator effectiveness requirements, year-end events, and the normal spring-time student issues that often seem to grow as the year comes to a close. In spite of those issues, principals inspired me with their stories of hope, energy to get everything accomplished, positive attitudes, and willingness to do whatever was needed to help children achieve and thrive. Principals are truly special people, and my experiences representing you confirm that with every encounter.

The privilege and honor to serve as president of NAESP has been a truly transformational event in my life. I had no idea when I started this journey last July the wonderful experience it would be to meet, and now count as friends, so many fine principals from around this great country. I had the great pleasure of seeing much of the country and had many wonderful experiences, including meeting President Barack Obama at the White House in April during the Teacher of the Year ceremony. That was a pretty amazing experience for a principal from a small Midwest city like La Crosse, Wisconsin. For all of the opportunities, I wish to thank the members of NAESP.

Here’s a roundup of my travels on behalf of NAESP: 18 state conferences, four NAESP Board of Directors meetings, five other NAESP events, three Department of Education events, two international conferences, five Wisconsin events, and three other events—for a total of 40 trips. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the wonderful people who made me feel at home wherever I went this year while promoting and leading NAESP. I would also like to thank the 2014-2015 NAESP Board of Directors; it has been a pleasure to work with such a forward-thinking group. And thanks to the dedicated NAESP staff headed by our executive director, Gail Connelly.

Robyn Conrad Hansen from Gilbert, Arizona, will assume the office of NAESP President on July 1. She is a thoughtful and energetic leader whose wide skills set will be put to good use in her year as NAESP president. Conrad Hansen is also a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as I am. Go Blugolds! I look forward to returning to my position at Hintgen Elementary School after the NAESP conference in Long Beach, California.

Please take the time this summer to recharge and retool for the 2015-2016 school year. You most certainly have earned it.

In May, your NAESP Board of Directors met with the NASSP Board of Directors to solidify our relationship. We met at our new home in Reston, Virginia, where both organizations now occupy the same building. It was very easy to hear, see, and feel the collaborative relationships that are developing at the staff level and also at the Board level. The NAESP Board has authorized some preliminary efforts for the Association to work in a more collaborative manner with NASSP. One of our first moves will be to explore planning a joint national conference in the summer of 2017. At our May meeting, NASSP President G.A. Buie and I recorded a short video clip about our relocation. I hope you get a chance to view it on the NAESP website to help understand the nature of our relationship with NASSP, which explains where we are headed together while remaining independent associations.

Mark J. White is president of NAESP and principal of Hintgen Elementary School in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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