NASSP has long been known as an organization that connects school leaders across the United States. Let’s make that “around the globe.”

An NASSP delegation of school leaders spent their July conducting a series of Great Leaders Summits in China. The summits are a program of the NASSP Chinese Affairs Center (CAC), which launched earlier this year at the Ignite ’15 conference in San Diego, CA. 

The standards-based summits introduced the CAC as a provider of elite professional development for school leaders in China. A team of American principals presented professional development programs to more than 2,000 Chinese school leaders from July 12–26 in five cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Beijing. In each city, NASSP President Michael E. Allison was a featured guest of the Chinese provincial or city government. He addressed each local delegation and discussed NASSP’s role in promoting principal development, school improvement, and student voice.

“Every interaction with school leaders in China reminded me that we share a personal drive and a passion to provide our students the best opportunities possible to reach their greatest potential,” Allison said. “That passion trumps the political and cultural divisions that often def­ine our relationship.

“The team also visited Chinese schools in each city to form “sister school” relationships and pave the way for other American schools to form similar partnerships. The program was sponsored by the Ivy Elite Education Association (IEEA), China’s premier provider of professional development for principals.”

Our call to maximize the potential of all students to address future challenges requires a global education,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “That global education begins with the leaders, who must reach outside of their own schools and to the other side of the globe to create opportunities for students to expand their worldview. NASSP is delighted to work with IEEA to provide this opportunity to American and Chinese school leaders.”

The summits featured Principal Kevin Bennett, Associate Principal Mary Pat Cumming, and teacher Michael Elston from the FAIR (Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource) School in Minneapolis, MN, who led an engaging program titled “Effective and Successful Models of School Leadership” and participated in a panel discussion with Chinese principals and school leaders on topics such as parent/community involvement in schools, collaborative leadership, student and teacher assessment, project-based learning, and student leadership.

The summit also featured Ted McCain, a futurist and author of Teaching for Tomorrow: Teaching Content and Problem-Solving Skills. His presentation, “Education in the Age of Disruptive Innovation,” focused on the challenges and oppor­tunities of education in the digital age. Bill Ziegler, principal of Pottsgrove High School in Pottstown, PA, and James Richardson of Buck Lodge Middle School in Prince George’s County, MD—both 2015 NASSP Digital Principals-presented “The Role of the Digital Principal” and “The Impact of Digitization on High School Curriculum.” Their schools were showcased for their technology integration, and they joined McCain in a panel discussion on technology’s impact on teaching and learning.

“This experience changed my perspective on the global learning environment, and it has strengthened my leadership as a principal,” Ziegler said. “Building relationships with Chinese principals and learning about their education system provides me a fresh set of eyes through which I can see our own strengths and areas for improvement. I know the new relationships created a foundation for long-lasting relationships between our schools.

“The team and its Chinese counterparts will present on their Great Leaders Summit experiences at NASSP’s Ignite ’16 Conference in February in Orlando, FL. 

Bob Farrace is NASSP’s director of public affairs.

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