NASSP’s Assistant Principal of the Year: Chelsea Jennings

NASSP 2021 National Assistant Principal of the Year Chelsea Jennings recounted her educational journey and shared programs that have benefited her school community:

  • Dump and Jump: This approach allows five minutes to “dump” emotions or distractions before “jumping” into work.
  • Trauma-Informed Discipline: Jennings has led book studies on conscious discipline to address academic and behavioral needs, leading to a more than 50% drop in discipline referrals.
  • EAST: This program pairs students and teachers with community members on service-learning projects.

Beauty From the Ashes

Western Branch Middle School shared its journey toward social justice and learning about cultures outside its own:

  • A volunteer Social Justice Council researched rates of discipline and placement in advanced classes among students of color.
  • A book study on Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum facilitated discussion among staff to examine biases.
  • A Student Empowerment Task Force gave student representatives a voice and promoted better behavior among student peers.

A Game Plan for Success

As school leaders navigate the next school year, several practices can help bolster student support:

  • Focusing on relationships
  • Building in mental health supports for staff and students
  • Maximizing your time with students
  • Focusing on what matters
  • Implementing equitable and fair grading practices

What Kind of Principal Are You?

All principals have their own unique styles and skill sets. The key to being effective is tapping into your strengths to lead with authenticity. What strengths do you exhibit?

  • Thinking deeply
  • Connecting emotionally
  • Collaborating openly
  • Analyzing effectively
  • Envisioning creatively