A National Principals Month for the Books!

Throughout October, NASSP, the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) continued the annual tradition of highlighting principals across the nation during National Principals Month (NPM). All month long, students, parents, teachers, fellow school leaders, policymakers, and even entire states celebrated the impact that principals have on school communities and thanked them for their unrelenting commitment and hard work.

This year, NPM took on a brand NEW component to celebrating our principals by focusing on advocating for and on behalf of policies and legislative priorities that benefit the principal profession and the schools that principals lead. Through school shadowing visits, a Capitol Hill Day, a Capitol Hill briefing, an action alert, and other advocacy events, NPM saw advocacy participation that surpassed expectations for its first year, along with the usual celebration. NASSP, AFSA, and NAESP hope that this momentum can be used to bring about real, positive change for school leaders.

Data has shown that one of the most effective ways to influence legislators on new policies and inform them of current ones is through shadowing or school site visits. Principals put this insight into action during the third annual National Principal Shadowing Week, October 7–11. This event continues to grow, and this year, even more federal, state, and local legislators and their staff joined principals for a day to experience their roles and responsibilities firsthand. Even though NPM is now over, you still have the ability to host a policymaker. Visit the Shadowing Visits page on the NPM website for an invitation template to complete and send to legislators, as well as dos and don’ts for visits and a webinar outlining best practices.

One of the most exciting days of the month was Thursday, October 17, when NASSP, AFSA, and NAESP joined together for the first-ever joint Capitol Hill Day as a part of NPM. Over 50 principals from the three organizations visited Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and staff, share challenges they face in their schools, and highlight actions that the federal government can take to support their endeavors. In addition, the Capitol Hill Day provided NASSP the opportunity to present its 2019 Congressional Champion Award to Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-3).

The three organizations hosted a Capitol Hill briefing for congressional staff and other education advocates to focus on the importance of principal preparation and how the federal government can support states and districts in implementing principal pipelines. Over 70 attendees gained valuable information from “Principal Pipelines, Not Just a Pipe Dream” about the importance of properly preparing principals for life in the school. If you missed this live event, you can view the recording here.

Several online celebrations and Twitter chats also supported NPM throughout the month. The #ThankAPrincipal hashtag was widely used on social media, and numerous webinars provided principals with free professional development opportunities and access to important resources. Topics included instructional leadership, social and emotional learning, college preparedness, and the youth vaping epidemic.

Many e-cards were sent throughout the month—and although this year’s NPM has concluded, we encourage you to continue sending e-cards as a way to show gratitude for principals all year long.

Two major announcements were made during NPM 2019. One introduced the National Principal of the Year, Kerensa Wing, principal of Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, GA. Wing was honored for her exemplary school leadership and investment in human capital to ensure that Collins Hill’s teaching force is not only high-quality but also reflects the student population. Wing doubled the number of Hispanic and African American teachers at the school and also hosted cultural competency training for her staff.

The second announcement revealed the winners of the Student Video Contest, for which students worked together to create and submit a one-minute video about why they appreciate their principal. Each video reflected the creativity, passion, and collaboration of the participating schools. One award was given for each school level. Congratulations to the 2019 winners listed below:

Thank you to all of the schools that participated in the contest and for your continued appreciation and support of your principals.

Visit www.principalsmonth.org for more details about NPM events that honored principals from coast to coast this October—and remember, it’s never too early to start brainstorming ways to thank your principals in October 2020!

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