Supporting Students as Civic Leaders

The world has no shortage of problems. My generation, Gen Z, is being handed a society that is grappling with wealth inequality, voter suppression, healthcare injustice, climate crises, and much more. Especially during this pandemic, the future has never seemed so bleak and hopeless.

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Applying the Lessons of Online Learning to the Pandemic School World

When the whole education world turned virtual, we were already halfway there. At Rio Rancho Cyber Academy (RRCA) outside Albuquerque, we’ve been providing a blended model of in-person and virtual learning since long before anyone had even heard of COVID-19. I like to think we are a hidden gem in the Rio Rancho schools that a lot of people just don’t know about; we can offer options that other places can’t simply because we are an alternative school.

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How Oakland’s Teachers Secured $9.6M in Donated Resources

Last year, I became principal of Oakland High School, a diverse community of just over 1,500 scholars. I’m proud to say that we responded quickly to meeting students’ needs in the wake of COVID-19—Oakland High was the first school in the district to start distributing Chromebooks when the pandemic hit. And with the help of my team, we were able to continue fulfilling our educational mission and stay true to our student-centered approach.

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Simple Ways to Build Connection with Staff and Students

As human beings, we are hardwired for connection. We chose to be educators with the intention of impacting the lives of our students through the relationships we build. Yet, as an assistant principal, I often find myself buried in my never-ending to-do lists, which has unfortunately led to missed opportunities to connect with my staff and students. I have challenged myself to adjust my daily routine, creating space to connect. I have discovered that by committing to a few simple strategies each day, I can connect with staff and students significantly more than before.

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Building Community Partnerships Begins with Relationships

When I became the leader of Northwest Rankin High School (NWRHS), I inherited a very positive school culture, characterized by strong relationships with students, staff, and the community. But one thing was missing: partnerships between the school and local businesses and other organizations. Developing a formal relationship with the local Chamber of Commerce helped. It led to a series of programs that have transformed what we do and the role our school plays in the community.

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3 Key Steps to Choosing Interventions that Meet ESSA Standards

Determining whether a product has the right kind of research base to show its effectiveness is often a confusing process. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now requires that the intervention programs that school districts purchase have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they improve student outcomes. Choosing a program with research-based effectiveness increases the likelihood that it will improve student achievement. Understanding ESSA’s tiers of evidence standards and knowing what to look for will help districts make informed choices about an intervention program.

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‘No Apologies’: 5 Examples of Disruptive Leadership

There’s an important reason school leaders should be unapologetic about shaking things up, according to NASSP Digital Principal Brian McCann.

“If we’re not going to be risk-takers, how can we expect our students to be?” McCann asked during a session at the 2021 National Principals Conference.

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Meet the 2022 Principal of the Year Finalists

School leaders faced extraordinary challenges in the 2020–21 school year. Principals found themselves navigating not only the halls of their buildings but also virtual environments in their mission to provide high-quality learning opportunities for all their students. For their exemplary work, the following school leaders have been selected as finalists for the NASSP 2022 National Principal of the Year:

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Before the Bell Rings: Four Ways to Stay Balanced

August. The month for educators of excitement, anticipation, and the start of a new (school) year. Many of us left our classrooms and schools in June with a list of books to read, conferences to go to, and big ideas for the next school year. If you are like me, June, July, and August are months that help me ramp up for the next year and focus on not just professional learning, but also extended time to be with family and friends.  

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Onboarding Students and Forming Personal Connections

As a new school year begins, it feels good to reconnect with students and meet new families in our community. As the assistant principal at Vail Academy and High School, a K–12 public school of approximately 475 students in Tucson, AZ, one of my responsibilities is to focus on onboarding new students and guiding them through a summer orientation process—a challenge that was the first project I took on when I arrived at the school. By serving our learning community, I have been fortunate to watch students that attended our orientation later walk across the graduation stage.  

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‘Monday Musings’: Building Communication, Inclusion, and Cohesion With Parents

At Pewamo-Westphalia Middle/High School, we believe our three stakeholder groups—students, educators, and parents—determine the overall success of our educational experience. We use the analogy that successful education is a strong, solid, weight-bearing “three-legged stool,” with each leg representing one of the stakeholder groups. We have confidence in and rely upon each leg of the stool holding its own weight and doing its job so that it does not collapse or fail. Furthermore, we have a culture in our building that is built upon strong relationships, as we follow the research that dictates that communication and trust are the deciding factors in determining the overall success of any relationship. That being stated, we knew that during a challenging and divisive season such as pandemic education, communication and trust would be even more paramount; when there is a lack of communication, or lack of trust, negativity fills in the gap. 

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NPC21 Session Recap: State of American Education

The beginning of the school year is approaching, and with it, a major push to return to normal this fall. At the 2021 National Principals Conference, “The State of American Education” session brought together leading local, state, and federal policymakers and influencers to discuss emerging issues in education policy. The session also featured strategies and suggestions for how school leaders can influence the decisions being made that impact their schools. This year’s panelists included Chris Rush, Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education Office of the Secretary; Dr. Sydnee Dickson, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Dr. Susan Enfield, the superintendent of Highline Public Schools in Washington state; and Allison Persad, principal of The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria in Astoria, NY. The session was moderated by Alyson Klein, assistant editor at Education Week

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Four Ways to Anchor Yourself as a Leader

I still remember the shock on March 13, 2020, when we sent students home to complete the year online. Looking back, these last 16 months have been beyond stormy—just one wave after another as we battled to support teachers, support our school community, support our students, and somehow find something that supported ourselves. Throughout this challenging time, there are four things that anchored me throughout the storm. 

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Inclusion Beyond the Classroom

Establishing a culture of inclusion across the building and beyond the classroom not only benefits the students being included, it also helps build a positive culture for everyone in the school community. As is typical in most schools, we’ve worked to maximize the inclusion opportunities for our students with developmental disabilities. Over the last several years, we’ve been able to expand beyond the academic program and into other areas around the school by starting off relatively small and expanding into clubs, athletics, and other activities.  

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National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Executive Director Doug Shapiro and NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe Discuss the Impact of COVID-19 on Students

Listen to Their Conversation and Attend the Clearinghouse’s Session at the 2021 NASSP National Principals Conference

During a webinar earlier this year, Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, and Ronn Nozoe, CEO of NASSP, shared their thoughts about two important Research Center reports: 

  • The early look at fall enrollment as it pertains to the class of 2020 high school graduates 
  • The annual High School Benchmarks Report on National College Progression Rates for the class of 2019
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Building Community, Camaraderie, and Leadership Through Student Mentorship

Young adults are amazing. I am inspired every day by their love of learning, their energy, and their ability to make the most out of any situation. As a middle level educator, I get the joy of watching students blossom in many ways. During these formative years, I watch students transform from awkward ducklings into confident swans on a daily basis. Finding ways to encourage and foster that growth is a fundamental part of the work we do as educational leaders, and quite frankly, one of the best parts of my job. The growth of our school’s mentoring program has provided new opportunities for our students to grow, give back to our community, and build relationships with the students who will be joining us in the coming years. 

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Lessons in Virtual Hiring for School Leaders

Deputy chief of talent development at D.C. Public Schools offers an inside look at how the district has restructured its principal hiring

This article first appeared on The Wallace Foundation’s blog. It has been republished with permission.

​​​​​The COVID-19 pandemic has upended a great number of systems and processes in the K–12 education system, including the hiring of principals and school leaders. More than a year into the pandemic, school districts are once again facing a remote hiring season. What can we learn from their experience last year? And what might be improved in the virtual hiring process for both district leaders and job candidates going forward?

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A Small Token Goes a Long Way

I was about to enter my first year of a principalship, and you could feel the sunny Cape Cod days slipping away quickly. I had just signed my first principal contract, and I wanted to hit the ground running as soon as I entered my new middle level school. Friends laughed at me that evening around the late summer campfire when I threw out the idea of buying my staff engagement rings to show my commitment to all of them. The next morning, I promptly ordered 120 of the shiniest, gaudiest plastic “diamond” rings that you have ever seen. I wasn’t kidding when I stated in my interview that I was committed—“all in.”

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Meet the NPC21 Keynote Speakers

As principals and assistant principals prepare for the upcoming school year, the 2021 National Principals Conference (NPC21) provides a time for renewal, engagement, community, and great professional learning from fellow school leaders. The July 14–16 event is virtual and will feature networking, expert-led courses, and breakout sessions. Keynote speakers will address equity, innovation, and wellness: the conference’s three program strands.  

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