When the Stakes Are High …

Principals step up and lead.

Topics: Pandemic Leadership

L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE

This is a different type of back-to-school greeting. That’s because at the time of printing this magazine, the essence of school leadership is being tested in many school communities. After an isolating and challenging year, principals across the nation are again starting the school year, and again leading under uncertain circumstances at the nexus of public health, school safety, and their usual responsibilities—ensuring that each child receives an equitable school experience.

But even as the realities schools must deal with keep shifting, the core job of principal does not change—and neither does the role NAESP has in supporting its members. That’s why after 100 years of service to the profession, we are still proud to meet principals’ needs in service to all children, and especially as they lead school communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. Principals have proved time and time again that when the stakes are high, they step up, and NAESP is proud to offer unparalleled support for principal leadership.

Why the Stakes Are High

Research about the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020–2021 school year already indicates that schools are having a tough time locating some of their students and that students overall are less prepared to participate in grade-level work. This is according to a RAND report, “Will This School Year Be Another Casualty of the Pandemic?,” which also examines what teaching and learning look like this school year, how educators are coping with a rapidly changing educational environment, and the challenges principals and teachers are facing.

Identifying the appropriate supports school communities need to overcome these challenges is key this year. It begins with focusing on meeting students where they are and advocating on their behalf to ensure that every one has the best chance possible to succeed—academically and social-emotionally—this school year.

So this back-to-school message is simple: I sincerely appreciate your leadership during these times of uncertainty. And the NAESP staff will continue to work diligently on your behalf to create quality member services to assist you in your important role as a school leader.

L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE is executive director of NAESP.