We’re All Here to Help Kids Thrive

New models of shared leadership lead to better outcomes for students.

L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE

Schools are coming out of some of the most challenging school years in a generation. Every one of you reading this has experienced it: On a dime, communities found their schools shifting to meet new needs brought on by the pandemic. We made it through—survived, if you will—thanks to an all-hands-on-deck effort, with the entire school community—principals, superintendents, teachers, counselors, specialists, and parents—pivoting, adapting, and working together to support students.

Surviving isn’t good enough. Now we intend to thrive. To do that, we need to accept that there’s no going back to pre-pandemic education and embrace a new model of shared leadership to ensure a bright future for students.

NAESP’s Leaders We Need Now (LWNN) research series confirms that principals are on board with reimagining the future of education and the principalship. According to recommendations from principals who took part in the LWNN research series, this new model of school leadership extends more leadership opportunities to assistant principals and teacher leaders. It could also reconfigure the principal role to move certain school-level administrative responsibilities to the central office to ensure that principals can stay focused on what matters most: their students, faculty and staff, and communities.

I’m here for the kids because they deserve every opportunity to thrive in school and in life—just like I did as a beneficiary of public education. School principals—who research proves have a tremendous impact on student success—are critical in delivering a world-class education to each student in their building.

As the past three years have placed a spotlight on America’s educators and school professionals like never before, it’s shown how truly committed they are to helping children, especially during unprecedented challenges. As we settle into a new normal in schools, we know that this is a moment of opportunity and urgency to step up to the challenge and elevate public education like never before. Students are depending on all of us—and they need to know we’re here for them.

As a member organization of the Learning First Alliance, NAESP helped launch a campaign called Here for the Kids that aims to elevate support for public schools. At the heart of everything you do as school leaders is your love for your students and your passion for education. So, as a former educator and a proud product of public education, I ask you to join the movement to ignite support for local schools. Share on social media why you’re #HereForTheKids, and engage with your communities and empower them to take part. More support for schools means better opportunities and outcomes for our nation’s students.

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