There is no more humble act than simply admitting, “I don’t know.” That admission is what often distinguishes great leaders from the rest, especially when it is followed by efforts to learn and gain new skills to fill the identified gaps. In fact, some school leaders take their learning role so seriously and proudly that they have abandoned the title principal in favor of lead learner.

As your professional organization, NASSP’s role is to support your learning first by providing you a safe space for “I don’t know,” and then by immersing you in opportunities to learn. It is a vision we share with our friends at the National Association of Elementary School Principals, our partners on a number of initiatives during the past several years—including this month’s celebration of National Principals Month. Our collaboration has taught us that connecting school leaders across all levels leads to a greater diversity of ideas, a greater breadth of innovation, and a deeper mutual respect from which all leaders benefit.

That discovery provides the foundation for the National Principals Conference, the first joint conference for our two organizations. As a community of school leaders, this conference will provide you a cherished safe space for learning. More than just breaking you out of the isolation that principals often feel, the National Principals Conference will allow you to reshape the education landscape with ideas and a consistent vision that can be implemented throughout the Pre-K through 12 continuum.

This is what the future of education looks like—collaborating across traditional parameters to gain fresh perspectives to spark our students’ progress. As with all learning, the leaders who arrive with the most open minds and the greatest willingness to fill their gaps stand to make the most progress and will learn things they never knew they didn’t know. I look forward to seeing you and learning with you July 9–11, 2017, in Philadelphia.

JoAnn Bartoletti 
Executive Director, NASSP