In this final issue of Principal Leadership for the 2021–22 school year, I want to celebrate the trailblazing leadership of school leaders everywhere. While you might not think of yourself as a “trailblazer,” I’m here to tell you that is exactly what you are.

When you started as a school leader, you probably thought you knew what you were getting into. You would serve as an instructional leader, act as a role model, and partner with families and the larger community. But the pandemic, along with staff shortages and the tense political climate, seem to have changed your job so much in these last couple years that some days you hardly recognize it at all.

I see you, school leaders, adding more and more of the following duties to your already packed workloads: contact tracing, substitute teaching, filling in for bus drivers and custodial staff, enforcing school rules on mask wearing and quarantining, reassuring students and staff, calming anxious families, spending COVID-relief funding, and advocating for the significant investments still needed to strengthen schools and the educator workforce in this unprecedented time.

Because of you, students truly charted their own path. Students like Maya and Arjun Govindaraj, eighth-grade twins at The Honor Roll School in Sugar Land, TX, make us all proud. Their story of how they spent numerous hours volunteering throughout the pandemic is included in this issue.

Maya and Arjun, founders of their own nonprofit to help others, stocked shelves, sorted food, and delivered it to the long lines of families in cars waiting to pop their trunks to take the much-needed donations home. In the face of unprecedented challenges, disruptions in their learning, and tremendous uncertainty, students like Maya and Arjun prioritized service and convinced many of their peers to join them so they would all feel more useful and less alone.

Innovative young people have demonstrated a resilience and adaptability that has impressed educators across the country. Student leaders have navigated online classrooms and changing protocols. They’ve pioneered new service project ideas and virtual spirit rallies to keep our school communities connected. And they’ve shown us that if they choose to follow in our footsteps and become the principals and assistant principals of tomorrow—and I sincerely hope they do—the education of future generations will be in good hands. Why? Because these student leaders will have learned how to conduct themselves with grace and dignity as they teach and lead simply by having watched you.

Through it all, you have made possible the impossible, and I have seen what you have achieved. I hope you take time this summer to rest and reflect on your many accomplishments, and take pride in the trailblazing student leaders who saw what you did for them and their communities and were inspired to follow your lead.


Ronn K. Nozoe