Guest post by Cameron Soester
Four years ago, I became the assistant principal at Milford Junior/Senior High School. It was September, and the principal in my building, Brandon Mowinkel, invited me to attend the Region 1 meeting of the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (NSASSP). I was unsure exactly what I was getting into, why I was going, and what I was going to do at this meeting, but as it turns out, getting involved in my region has opened many doors for me.
In Nebraska, involvement in the state organization starts at the regional level. Each region has an executive board that oversees quarterly meetings that involve networking and professional development. Each regional president is also a member of the NSASSP executive board at the state level. There are additionally at-large members to represent other groups such as assistant principals at the state level, for example.
Through my involvement at the regional level, I have had the opportunity to network and associate with principals and assistant principals that are geographically close to me. This professional network has been a valuable resource to which I regularly turn to ask for advice, collaborate on school initiatives, and share best practices. It is through my involvement that I and a colleague, Charlie Hutzler from Norris High School, have organized an assistant principal-specific session at the annual Nebraska Administrator Days. It has been a successful venture as we have consistently had 25–30 assistant principals, deans, or other student service personnel in attendance.
My involvement with our state organization afforded me the honor of being named Nebraska’s APOY in 2016 and gave me the opportunity to attend NASSP Ignite in Orlando, FL. Attending this conference was something I will not soon forget. Through this experience, I had the privilege to participate in the first-ever professional development tract specifically for assistant principals. In this program, I have made many connections with educators from across the country and learned how to be a more effective leader. Since then, I have been able to write guest posts for NASSP’s Assistant Principal Expert of the Week blog through the Assistant Principal Leadership Center, take advantage of professional development opportunities, and collaborate with colleagues.
Being involved with NASSP and NSASSP has also spurred an interest in advocacy. I have become a more informed leader for my district and have learned quite a bit about how I can make a difference on a political level, not just for my district but for public education in general. Now I write to our political representative at both the state and national level expressing my concerns.
Throughout our careers, we have many choices to make; making the choice to be involved with NASSP and my state affiliate has been beneficial in many ways. I am a more connected, informed, and innovative leader in my school because of my participation in these organizations.
How are you involved in your state organizations and NASSP? How has this made you a better leader?
Cameron Soester is the 2016 Nebraska Assistant Principal of the Year. He is currently the assistant principal at Milford Junior/Senior High School in Milford, NE.