Starting in July of 2018, the NASSP Policy & Advocacy began recognizing outstanding volunteer advocates who dedicate their time to advancing the policy and civic priorities of school leaders, public education, and students across America. Recognized quarterly, the Principal Advocate Champion is someone who has made a powerful impact on the direction of public education policy through their personal engagement with state and federal policy makers and their ability to organize grassroots support behind NASSP advocacy initiatives.
We are proud to announce Steve Baker as the quarterly Principal Advocate Champion for October–December 2018.
Steve has been the principal of Bluffton High School in Bluffton, IN, since 1999. Among many professional accomplishments, he was named the Indiana State Principal of the Year in 2012. Some of the roles he’s served in addition to being a principal include the executive board of the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP) since 2008; numerous education committees with the Indiana Department of Education including Educator Evaluation Cabinet, A–F Accountability Panel, Governor’s Educational Roundtable, Superintendent Principal Advisory Council, and the ISTEP Replacement Panel; and NASSP’s Indiana State Coordinator since 2014.
As a grassroots advocate, you won’t find a school leader or educator anywhere more dedicated than Steve Baker to advancing federal and state policy that benefits great education for all students. Speaking about importance of educators advocating with their lawmakers, Steve says, “You can look at things as if you have to do something, or if you get to do something. I feel like when it comes to advocacy, I’m lucky that I get to do it. Elected officials need to hear things through the eyes and ears of a principal so they can make decisions based on that. I always want to keep a presence in front of our legislators and make sure they know who I am.”
In Indiana, many lawmakers can attest that they hear things from a principal’s perspective often by way of knowing Steve Baker. Steve has spent years developing relationships with his state and federal legislators and regularly meets with them, invites them to his school, and serves as a trusted resource on education policy to them. For Principals Shadowing Week this year (October 15–19) during National Principals Month, Steve reached out to Senator Joe Donnelly’s office, extended an invitation to shadow him at his school for a day, and arranged a visit with the senator’s regional director.
In past years during National Principals Month, Steve has been visited by other elected officials and staff, including his congressman, Rep. Jim Banks. The visit with Rep. Banks was the beginning of a continued correspondence that has established Steve as a trusted voice on education for the congressman and his staff. So much so, in fact, that Steve was recently invited by Rep. Banks to testify before a congressional committee on workforce development and college and career readiness.
At the state level, Steve has been a force with the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP) for years. As one example, the state legislature recently passed a bill that affected graduation requirements and pathways. After the bill’s passage, Steve led a group of principals that worked with the state board of education on recommendations for implementing graduation pathways in a way that serves the best interests of students. He’s now leading that group around the state to host six separate forums where they will present and advocate for those recommendations.
In addition to personally being an advocate, Steve also voluntarily serves an important leadership role within NASSP’s State Coordinator network, our lead volunteer advocacy organizers in every state. Having been in the position since 2014, Steve takes on a mentorship role to new coordinators and assists NASSP with onboard training. He freely offers the tips, tricks, and best practices he’s learned over the years to make principals, school leaders, and educators the most effective advocates they can be for their schools and students.
For more on the great work that Steve Baker is doing, be sure to follow him on Twitter: @BHS__Principal