Innovative. Bold. Creative. These are the qualities exemplified by the 2018 NASSP Principals of the Year. Each year, NASSP recognizes principals who harness the potential of new technologies to further students’ learning.
Congratulations to this year’s digital principals: Kristina MacBury, Brian McCann, and Mariah Rackley.
This award reflects these principals’ digital leadership and the tremendous work they have done to model the effective use of digital tools and resources to lead a learner-centered environment and collaborative community.
As the leader of a non-traditional, blended learning high school, MacBury believes in staying ahead of emerging research and technologies impacting the K–12 community. Because of this philosophy, she has transformed her school by embracing technology—specifically, Google Apps for Education(GAFE). This innovative change has impacted students and teachers alike, allowing them to integrate more interactive tools and practices into their classrooms. Students and teachers are able to collaborate and share feedback on assignments whether the student is at home or in school, removing barriers for already at-risk students. In fact, school graduation rates have increased by more than 20 percent in the past three years.
“Kristina knows that staying in one place and never getting out of one’s comfort zone is a risky place to be,” said teacher Michael Herring. “She is always challenging the students and the staff to try new things, to take us out of our comfort zone. I feel privileged to work for her. I am now a better user and proponent of technology and I know that all of our students are in a better place in school with Kris as our principal.”
Celebrating his 15th year as principal at Joseph Case High School (his own alma mater), McCann has leveraged integrated educational technology to provide a future-ready education for his students. During his time at this modestly sized (less than 600 students) school, McCann has removed device restrictions, upgraded connectivity with a free, robust Wi-Fi network, increased technology access by transitioning from a library to Learning Commons, and revamped all required technology courses to include coding in multiple languages. His introduction of Google Classroom has transformed the way teachers and students work. To top it all off, McCann helped ignite a firestorm of activity and engagement in the social media world and beyond with his “All That Snow” video.
“The most prominent factor of personal technology in modern students’ lives is undoubtedly social media, through which Mr. McCann has taught us to positively brand the school and its culture,” said JCHS student Travis Purcell. “He even goes so far as creating uplifting signs that are promoted on Twitter in an effort to boost student morale and encourage positivity and optimism in their everyday lives.”
In her nine years as principal of Cedar Crest Middle School, Rackley has turned social media into a powerful tool for teachers, parents, and students. She frequently uses Twitter and her blog to share ideas and promote the vision for her school. Rackley is currently using technology to increase students’ performance on standardized tests after a decrease in the 2016–17 school year. Utilizing two Edmentum products that address student growth and student achievement, she is able to provide data for teachers to tailor their instruction, better meet the needs of their students, and close the achievement gap prior to the state assessments.
“The most intriguing thing is how well she communicates with parents through Twitter,” said parent Kristi Glassford. “We are able, multiple times each day, to see what happenings are going on throughout the school. Not only is she intelligent, caring, and compassionate, but she is driven and strives for new intuitive ways to connect with not only her staff and students, but also us parents.”
These digital principals receive an expenses-paid (airfare, lodging, and registration) trip to the 2018 National Principals Conference, where they will have an opportunity to speak. Winners will also be featured in Principal Leadership magazine. In addition, winners are eligible to apply for a full scholarship to participate in McKinsey Management Program for School Leaders (MMPSL), a dynamic and highly interactive online leadership training program that will run from November 2018–July 2019.