Happy National Principals Month from NASSP!

To help kick off National Principals Month, some of us on the NASSP staff are sharing memories of and thanks to the principals who have had an impact on our lives. Share your story in the comments or on social media using #ThankAPrincipal!

Amanda Karhuse, Director of Advocacy:

“I had attended Montessori school and didn’t go to my neighborhood public school for kindergarten, so I was really nervous on my first day of 1st grade. The principal, Dr. Lionel Seitzer, was new to the school that year, and he met me at the school door and shared that he was also nervous because it was his first day too. He walked me to the classroom, and then introduced me to my teacher and the other students before heading back to his office. I just really remembered feeling comforted and thankful that he had taken the time out of his busy day to make one new student feel welcomed.”

15-NASSP_NatPrincMonth_BannerStand_FinalBeverly Hutton, Deputy Executive Director:

“I will never forget my principal Dr. Mattilyn Rochester. She was the first African-American female principal I had ever met or worked with. She taught me to be strong, she taught me to be brilliant, she taught me to be proud, and she was a great role model. She is the reason I became a principal and she is the reason I am so dedicated to enriching the lives of students. She enriched my life in a way that she will never know. And now that she is older and unable to take care of herself, I pray for her every day and thank her for the commitment that she gave to me to enrich the lives of students and to be a good role model for teachers as well. I am a compassionate educator because of the seed that she has sewn into my life.”

Jonathan Mathis, Director of the National Honor Societies:

“Mrs. Linda Jackson-Chalmers remains, to me, one of the most important leaders and examples in my educational career. While at Arbor Hill Elementary School, Mrs. Jackson-Chalmers instilled in her students a mantra that we were sure never to forget: “Dream it, believe it, and do it too.” These words meant more and more as the years progressed, but what was most impressive is how they shaped our lives. Mrs. Jackson-Chalmers created a school community where we could aspire to do great things, articulate those dreams, and begin to understand and practice what it meant to be great. She did not expect anything other than excellence, and the teachers with whom she led the school, maintained those same expectations. She is by far one of the most impressive women in the field, and I am grateful for her investment in generations of scholars.”

Katharine Gausmann, Program Manager of NASSP Principal Events:

“I went to Maplebrook Elementary in Naperville, Illinois and my principal was Mrs. Kitty Murphy. She was the best! Her door was always open and she was a true leader in the school. After winning a volleyball state championship my freshman year at Naperville Central High School, the team was recognized by the Naperville Community Unit School District 203. We walked into the room and were immediately greeted by Kitty, who was then on the Board. She remembered all of her former students; it was such a special moment for the players, Kitty, and the community.”

David Cordts, Associate Director of Honor Societies:

“While in junior high, I worked on the stage crew in the school’s theater, setting up our auditorium for assemblies, plays, concerts, etc. Mr. Harrison, our principal, came in one day just before an all-school assembly to check to see that everything was all set up for the arrival of students and staff. I was in charge of putting the microphone on the lectern, plugging it in (in the days before Bluetooth) and testing to see that it was working. To undertake the test to see whether the mic was on and working properly, I blew into the instrument. Mr. Harrison stopped in his tracks and called out from among the rows of seats below the stage, ‘David, stop that right now.’ He came quickly up to the stage, informed me that the correct way to test the microphone was to either speak ‘Testing 1,2,3,’ into it, or to snap fingers close to the protective screen. He noted my current technique was strictly for amateurs and that sound professionals know that the moisture from blowing into the mic would eventually ruin the inner workings of the device and it was important for us all to protect the school’s investment in good sound equipment. He advised me to assume the professional’s approach to microphone testing. Since that day I’ve been in charge of many a school assembly, conference session, or other event where I’ve corrected other ‘amateur’ microphone testers and shared Mr. Harrison’s wisdom with them. Simple but practical advice that has stuck with me for years.”

Carolyn Glascock, Program Manager of Professional Development:

“I have learned so much about the profession of the principalship working here at NASSP with principals who have shared stories of their careers. It is a remarkable profession and I am astounded every day at the sacrifices that educators make. What a difference they make to the lives of so many children who are our future. It is not an easy profession. The hours they have to put into their profession is way beyond the typical 40 hour week. I know the typical worker would not even consider working 60 hours a week and weekends. If the public really understood the role of a principal’s job, they would be more thankful for the guidance provided by that principal to make every child’s life an opportunity for future success. I know that no one can fill the shoes that a principal wears or handle all the different roles a principal has to fulfill each day. I hope one day the public understands how vital the principal is to their community and the sacrifices they make every day in leading young people to the right decisions and career paths for a successful life. I would sum it up to say that a principal is like a potter. Each student is the clay that the principal molds each day. I enjoy the opportunity to meet and work with so many principals across the country. It makes my job meaningful.”

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