When I applied to be an NASSP Ambassador, I was focused on what I could contribute to the group and on being fully committed to the experience. I knew there would be regular meetings over many months, and I wanted to make sure that I arranged my schedule to participate, which—as all principals know—is sometimes quite the feat. I knew to expect focused sessions where I’d collaborate with other Ambassadors to help NASSP design professional learning experiences that were meaningful to the membership. What I didn’t anticipate is all that I would get out of the experience and how incredibly meaningful it would turn out to be. Here are three unexpectedly meaningful things that have come from being an Ambassador. 

  1. The challenge to rise to a new professional level. In our very first meeting, I realized right away that I was surrounded by hard-working, intelligent, capable individuals who were at the top of their game. They offered thoughtful commentary and brought diverse and rich perspectives to the conversation. And they were quick on their feet. You might be used to being top dog in your school. Get ready to be with an entire pack of top dogs. The benefit? You’re challenged to rise to the very high level of everyone in the group. And everyone knows that without a challenge, you cannot grow.

  2. The change to make my school board and community proud. As principal, I provide a monthly report to our school board, and I included my selection as an NASSP Ambassador as an item of note. I was proud of having been selected, but I didn’t stop to think that the school board, superintendent, and staff would also be proud of me. One commented that it was a “feather in the cap” of the school district to have our school represented in this way on the national stage. Those moments don’t come along very often in the principalship—and I soaked it in. Those feelings and that support can get you through the tough times. 

  3. The opportunity to meet great school leaders from across the country. As a rural school principal, the isolation of being a single site administrator is real, and there’s little you can do about it day to day. As an Ambassador I connected with other principals experiencing the same challenges and successes, whether they were in Hawaii or Kansas. Our meetings meant that we established professional connections that have grown into professional friendships. It’s an exchange of information on a whole other level. 
Kate Williams, principal of Cordova Jr/Sr High School with the valedictorian, right, and salutatorian from the Class of 2021.
Kate Williams, principal of Cordova Jr/Sr High School with the valedictorian, right, and salutatorian from the Class of 2021.

Being an Ambassador has given me insight into (and respect for) the work that goes into our professional association. I’ve been a member of NASSP for seven years—from the very first year that I became a principal. I looked forward to reading Principal Leadership magazine every month and attending NASSP’s annual conference was a goal of mine. But I really had no idea of all that went on behind the scenes. The magazine and the conference are first-rate because there are first-rate people working on those things all year long. Being an Ambassador in 2023 expanded my horizons in the best possible way and made me further appreciate the network that’s there. I encourage you to tap into it whenever you’re ready.  

Learn more about NASSP’s Ambassador Program at nassp.org/ambassadors.

About the Author

Kate Williams is the principal of Cordova Jr/Sr High School in Cordova, AK, and an NASSP Ambassador.

1 Comment

  • Jon Schwantes says:

    Great piece! As a college level educator and department head, your writing made me contemplate how I can better represent my students and profession. Thank you!

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