Jayne Ellspermann, principal of West Port High School in Ocala, FL, is a thought leader among her peers, the 2015 NASSP National Principal of the Year, and NASSP president-elect for 2016. In this month’s questionnaire, we asked her to tell us what inspires her as a principal and how NASSP can support principals and schools through their greatest challenges.
What will be your top goal as president of NASSP?
The education of all students is critical for the future of our nation. The challenges facing the next generation require every bit of human potential we can develop. My top goal is to support the NASSP vision of ensuring great leaders in every school who are committed to the success of each student, so that potential can be fulfilled. School leaders need to know that NASSP is here to provide support through advocacy, research, education, and student programs.
What’s your view of the role of the principal in education?
The role of the principal in education is to provide the vision that empowers teachers and students while providing the support that is necessary for students to be successful.
What’s your biggest challenge as principal?
The biggest challenge I have is that there are not enough hours in the day. There are so many opportunities that take principals in so many different directions. Between visiting classrooms, meeting with students, and collaborating with parents and teachers, the day flies by. Then there are school activities to attend, as well as community events. And then there is email and paperwork, but that comes last.
What brings a smile to your face as a principal?
The students! I love seeing students discover their gifts and begin their journey to the future.
What is your favorite TV show?
Who has time for TV? There are too many great things going on at school. I have all the entertainment I need at West Port High School, and it is live!
Who is your favorite historical figure?
The person I think is making a mark in history right now is Malala Yousafzai. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is taking a stand for the education of young women. We take education for granted, and it is hard to believe that in other parts of the world there are young people who yearn for education.
If you could change one thing about education today, what would it be?
I would ensure that each student has equal access to technology. The great divide in education today is between those students who have access to digital learning both at school and at home. It is unacceptable that so many students still do not have Internet access or a digital device, which are essential to 21st-century learning. I’m proud that NASSP was active in the renewal of the E-Rate program (also known as the Schools and Libraries Program) to bring broadband to more remote schools, and now we are working hard to close the “homework gap” and extend digital broadband to more homes.