School of Thought

Every Student Matters

Guest post by John C. Bartlett

When I woke up the morning after Election Day, my to-do list had a new priority: a visit to my English language learner classroom and a conversation with our 50 students who were getting their first taste of American democracy at work. What did these students want and need from me and their teachers? These students wanted to know that they matter, that someone cared about them, and that they were safe. Essentially, they wanted to know what every student needs to know when they walk through the front door of our schools every day. (more…)

Are Your Students Life Ready?

Guest post by Akil E. Ross

As principal of Chapin High School (CHS) in South Carolina, I’m always trying to promote ways to make our students college and career ready. After all, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) calls for our students to meet higher academic standards and for us to help them find success beyond high school. But I often find myself wondering: Does college and career ready mean life ready? Regardless of which path our students take, just possessing the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and a career is only one part of the equation to becoming a productive and happy human being. In addition to making our students college and career ready, my goal is to make 100 percent of our students ready for life.

What does it mean to be life ready, and how can schools prepare students? (more…)

Leveraging Title IV, Part A to Create Safe and Supportive Schools

Guest post by Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach

Principals have a responsibility to ensure student safety while also providing a supportive environment that is conducive to learning. This requires a careful balance of addressing physical safety while also addressing the psychological safety of students. Despite the current focus on arming teachers and other school personnel, this tactic does not improve school safety, carries significant risk, and can actually undermine the learning environment. Rather, reasonable physical security measures include: (more…)

Change Starts With Us

Guest post by Jamie Richardson

A few years ago, I found myself trying to convince my son that he needed to “play the game” of school and figure out how to rack up as many “points” as possible in order to succeed. As these “encouraging” words came from my mouth, I stopped and asked myself, how was it that any of my students—let alone my very own son—needed artificial motivation to feel inspired about school? At that moment, I came to an important realization: (more…)

Safe Schools: Are You Ready?

Guest post by Jeff Simon

Many are concerned about the growing reports of school safety incidents. According to the Educator’s School Safety Network, U.S. schools experienced 745 bomb threats in the 2015–16 academic year. And since 2013, there have been 210 school shootings, as reported by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. This escalation of school threats and violence is generating fear and anxiety in students, parents, and educators and wasting precious learning time.

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Recovery After a School Shooting: There Is No Manual

Guest post by George Roberts

August 27, 2012. The first day of school for the 2012–13 school year. The sun was shining; the sky was a brilliant blue; the air was thick with the smell of freshly cut grass; the students were wearing their best back-to-school clothes; and the schoolhouse was filled with a palpable sense of excitement that only the first day of school can bring. Little did I know that three hours later the smell of gunpowder would fill the cafeteria, the smiles would turn to tears, and the excitement flipped to fear.

Any principal, teacher, or student who has faced the trauma of a school shooting event will understand these descriptions and rapid change of emotions. For me, it was all of these things and so much more as principal of the largest high school in my district and the one responsible for the well-being and safety of more than 2,000 students and 200 staff.  (more…)

Solutions for Singletons: Building a Professional Learning Network

Guest post by Abbey Duggins and Amber Schroering

If you’ve spent any amount of time building a high school master schedule, you are familiar with the dreaded “singleton.” A singleton happens when just enough students sign up to create one section of a course—usually an AP or obscure world language—and it throws a major wrench into scheduling every other aspect of the student’s day. A singleton is a scheduling nightmare, but it is also a necessary part of education.

Many positions in instructional leadership can feel like a singleton: there is one superintendent, one principal, one coach. These positions are often lonely, lacking the camaraderie that classroom teachers develop among their peers through the common bonds of students, lesson planning, grading, shared hallways moments, and outside-of-school fun.

So what is a singleton to do? (more…)

Raising Test Scores: One School’s Story

Guest post by Amy Mims

When I became an assistant principal of Independence High School in Charlotte, NC, our school’s test scores were low. As I started observing classrooms, I saw talented teachers hard at work designing and delivering interesting lessons that utilized a number of instructional best practices. I also saw motivated students who were engaged in lessons, completed assignments, and did well on assessments. I wondered: What was causing our school’s low test scores? (more…)

Erica Page Named 2018 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year

Compassionate, learner-centered, student achievement-oriented, and data-driven—these are some of the words used to describe the 2018 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year. Erica Page, in her sixth year as an assistant principal at Pelion High School, in Pelion, SC, has been selected for this year’s honor.

There are four keys that drive Page’s work toward results: communication, trust, commitment, and teamwork. (more…)

It’s AP Week—Hats Off to Assistant Principals!

Guest post by Emily Sturchio

In working with a number of assistant principals both as a high school teacher and as an associate for the NASSP professional learning team, I can tell you that APs are often the unsung heroes of a school. It is our nation’s APs who often do the lion’s share of the work to support students and keep our schools running each and every day. The work of APs often goes unnoticed (more…)