School leaders from Georgia, Missouri, and Massachusetts are honored for responding to students’ academic and social-emotional needs

Reston, VA—The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) today named Keith Ball, Beth Houf, and Ted McCarthy as the finalists for the 2022 NASSP National Principal of the Year (POY) award. These three school leaders have been selected for their exemplary work in ensuring the success and well-being of students and adults in their learning communities.

Keith Ball, Marietta High School, Marietta, GA

When Keith Ball started as principal of Marietta High School in 2018, he was the school’s fourth leader in five years. He knew that Marietta needed consistent leadership and a clear vision, so he instituted programs to improve college and career readiness, and he established a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) program to tackle issues of racial justice in the school community. He has also striven to ensure that students don’t have to choose working to provide for their families over pursuing their education. So, in February of this year, his school launched a program to allow students to take classes at nontraditional hours to accommodate those with jobs and ensure more equal access to education. 

Beth Houf, Fulton Middle School, Fulton, MO

Since starting as the principal of Fulton Middle School, Beth Houf has been committed to ensuring equitable opportunities in her school community and encouraging professional development among her staff. Under her leadership, Fulton educators have engaged in training related to trauma-informed teaching and restorative practices to ensure that everyone in the school community is valued and that all students receive a high-quality education. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Houf instituted a regular check-in program, so that each student continued to receive the individualized attention they needed to succeed during remote learning. 

Ted McCarthy, Sutton High School, Sutton, MA

As principal of Sutton High School, Ted McCarthy has implemented a “bottom-up” approach, where students and teachers play a much larger role in leading and shaping the direction of their school. Along with promoting student agency, McCarthy has helped implement a slew of engaging programs that focus on creating a more welcoming learning environment, such as anti-racism training, as well as academic programs and activities like engineering courses and robotics teams. A key example of the community spirit that McCarthy fosters is Sutton High School’s Connections Program, a social justice group that organizes workshops and conferences around social justice issues. 

“Mr. Ball, Ms. Houf, and Mr. McCarthy are three school leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring that learning environments prioritize equity, community, and student wellness. These three principals exemplify the positive impact of collaborative leadership to help drive student success,” said NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe. “We are thrilled to honor them for their strong leadership and efforts to support the safety and emotional well-being of their students as well as their entire learning communities.”

For the NASSP Principal of the Year program, each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools, and the Department of Defense Education Activity select one middle level or high school principal to represent their state or department, from whom three finalists are chosen. The award recognizes outstanding middle level and high school principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

The 2022 NASSP National Principal of the Year will be selected from among the finalists and announced in October during National Principals Month. To read more about each of the finalists, visit

Photos available upon request.



The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of middle level and high school principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student’s potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor SocietyNational Junior Honor SocietyNational Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.