Jon Wennstrom

Principal, Riley Upper Elementary School
Livonia, Michigan

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Candidate Statement

Celebrate, Connect & Cultivate!

If given the opportunity to serve as vice president of NAESP, I will use my role to focus on key issues facing our profession. Some of those issues include principal burnout causing leaders to exit our profession, principals working in isolation without a professional learning network, and the lack of new principals ready to step into the role of building leadership. I will be a person of action and work with my NAESP colleagues to tackle these issues by celebrating our profession, connecting our existing members, and cultivating new leaders.

CELEBRATE: As a building and organizational leader, I have always focused my energy on celebrating the positives of our team members and the collective work we do. As a principal, I celebrate our students and our staff through the use of social media, schoolwide assemblies, positive phone calls, and even through songs. Education is a noble profession and I believe those that dedicate their lives to this calling should be celebrated. For nearly 30 years, I have used my roles in education to promote the positive impact educators have on our students, community and the world. I also believe that the most meaningful celebrations are small moments and conversations that happen in a personal setting.

As the president of MEMSPA and of Rotary, I have used “member spotlights” to share out the remarkable things that are happening within the organizations as well as the accomplishments of our members that are often overlooked. I would do the same for the celebration of members as vice president of NAESP.

CONNECT: Several years ago, I was able to develop a Professional Learning Network that connected me to inspirational educators from around the world on social media. It was an avenue to share ideas, celebrate successes and learn from failures. It also led to connections that have developed into friendships over the years. From the PLN, I was invited to lead an educational blogging group that helped me grow through writing, reading and reflecting. As Vice President, I would use social media platforms to help connect educators, share ideas, and celebrate our profession.

Another way of connecting educators is through conferences. Long before serving on the board of directors for NAESP, I was attending both state and national conferences to learn and grow from my colleagues near and far. Attending and presenting at conferences is a great source of inspiration and energy for me. Even more than connecting with other educators, I love to help educators connect with one another. As vice president, I would strive to connect our members both online and in-person.

CULTIVATE: Having worked on legislative advocacy for our profession for the past several years, I know that challenges facing educators today include the lack of a new principal pipeline and the struggles impacting early career administrators. As vice president, I would work closely with the NAESP leadership team to continue advocating for economic and structural support that would encourage aspiring administrators to step into leadership roles in schools across our nation. The role of principal is something that educators should look forward to and not something they avoid.

In addition to advocacy, I will continue to support and expand our mentoring program for new and aspiring principals. NAESP is taking the lead on new principal mentoring and I will use my role to support these efforts.

Working with the NAESP leadership team has been the highlight of my career and I am hoping for the opportunity to give back to this organization as vice president. I will use my experience as a building principal, organizational leader, and NAESP state representative and board member to inspire our members by celebrating our profession. I will develop our existing members by helping them connect virtually and in-person. Finally, I will assure the growth of our organization by cultivating new and aspiring leaders through advocacy and mentoring. My goal is to bring together the members of our organization in a meaningful and inspiring manner to help support all principals and educational leaders reach their full potential.