If an Oklahoma elected leader serving in the state legislature or in Washington, D.C., wants to know what’s happening in our public schools, they should talk to Chris LeGrande. For 10 years, he has served as the principal of Guthrie High School in Guthrie, OK, and he would be happy to show them around his school. In that time, LeGrande has invited many state and federal lawmakers to join him for shadowing visits at Guthrie so they can learn more about his work and the life of a thriving public school.

In recent years, LeGrande has hosted elected leaders and their staffs, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas. The visitors see how LeGrande has upgraded campus safety measures, enhanced career-technology opportunities, and embedded college-level concurrent enrollment courses. He has also implemented a successful “Power Hour”—a daily offering of remediation, tutoring, and enrichment opportunities for all students.

“Even though I love these visits, at the end of the day, it’s the students who benefit the most,” LeGrande says. “I’m here to ensure they receive the high-quality education they deserve and part of that obviously involves funding from our federal government. When elected officials see how we’re spending those federal dollars and that we’re resourceful and good stewards of the money, then in the next round of legislative talks when they’re deciding on budgets, they can think back to how our schools are indeed using this money to support students.”

The NASSP Advocacy Champion of the Year Award is given annually to an individual who has worked to elevate the collective voice of school leaders in federal, state, and local policy and public discourse. The award honoree embodies the mission of NASSP and has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advocating on behalf of school leaders and their schools.

LeGrande is especially deserving given his long record of taking on important advocacy and leadership roles with the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals (OASSP) and NASSP. He serves on the OASSP Executive Committee and updates principals across Oklahoma with legislative alerts, hosts networking gatherings, and encourages his colleagues across the state to join him in raising their voices on behalf of students, school leaders, and public education. LeGrande has served as OASSP president, and in 2020 he was named Oklahoma Principal of the Year.

With his school shadowing visits, his influence has spread beyond his home state, as school leaders elsewhere have followed his example by arranging their own visits with lawmakers. “I hope principals around the country will see what a difference it can make when legislators visit their school,” he says. “It’s one thing to get a surface view from the outside, but it’s so much better to come in and get an up-close look at what life is like in a 21st century public school.”

Congratulations to Principal Chris LeGrande!

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