We often look for the big stories in education—schools and districts that made double-digit gains in test scores or cleared the 90 percent bar in graduation rates. Yet those stories often obscure the real story of public education—the daily struggles and incremental victories that gradually build student success.

Consider Pennsylvania Assistant Principal Chris Becker, for instance, who spent the better part of his first year facilitating various behavioral and academic interventions—combined with endless encouragement—just to get a transient student named Owen over the fifth-grade finish line. Two years later, Chris encountered Owen again as a seventh grader in another district. The interventions and mentoring continued, until he was able to present Owen the Most Improved Middle-Schooler award at the promotion ceremony.

As we clarify our understanding of exactly what school leaders do that leads to school success—best articulated by The Wallace Foundation (see sidebar)—we are able to identify and celebrate the victories we achieve each day in our schools. And we can see more clearly just how many of those victories are led by otherwise unsung assistant principals. We have to remember there is an Owen behind every data point. And behind every Owen, there is often a talented and caring Chris championing his cause.

NASSP is proud to lead the celebration of Chris and his colleagues across the country during National Assistant Principals Week, April 11–15. Visit www.nassp.org/apweek for ideas to acknowledge the great contribution assistant principals make to school climate, instructional improvement, and ultimately, student success.

And to all the assistant principals out there, Happy Assistant Principals Week! Our schools cannot succeed without you.

JoAnn Bartoletti
Executive Director, NASSP

Sidebar: The Wallace Five: Practices of Effective School Leadership

  1. Shaping a vision of academic success for all students
  2. Creating a climate hospitable to education
  3. Cultivating leadership in others
  4. Improving instruction
  5. Managing people, data, and processes