Alexandria, VA—This week, officials from the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) will experience life as a school principal, shadowing 85 Pre–K–12 principals in Washington, D.C. and 10 states. The visits are the culmination of National Principals Month, an annual campaign that puts a spotlight on the importance of school leadership. The visits will provide federal policymakers with a deeper understanding of the role of principals as instructional leaders and foster conversations about the policies, programs, and resources principals need to create outstanding schools where great teachers thrive and all students excel.
The school visits will be followed by a conversation between the shadowed principals and Department officials, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Acting Deputy Secretary of Education John King. The American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and New Leaders commend the Department’s continued focus on school leadership.
“We applaud the Department for their continued efforts to highlight and better understand the critical leadership role principals play in our nation’s schools, said Diann Woodard, President of AFSA. “We also applaud the AFSA and other organization’s principals for participating in this important event, and we look forward to working with them and the Department to make sure all principals receive the support they need.”
Department staffers have participated in principal shadow visits since 2012, which led to the creation of the Principal Ambassador Fellowship (PAF) program in 2014. Washington PAF Alicia Perez-Katz, who is serving as a full-time advisor at the Department during SY2015-16, coordinated the visits. Campus PAFs Joe Manko, Principal of Liberty Elementary in Baltimore, MD, and Jessica Nauiokas, Principal of Mott Haven Academy Charter School in the Bronx, New York, are among those who will be shadowed by Department staff.
“This event provides a tremendous opportunity for Department officials to get a firsthand understanding of the daily challenges principals face and the type of support they need to overcome those challenges, as they strive to build great schools for their students,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. “We are so grateful for the Department’s continued attention to the importance of school leadership and proud that 18 New Leader principals, including New Leader PAFs Joe Manko and Jessica Nauiokas, will be among those shadowed this week.”
All shadowed principals will participate in a culminating debriefing session at the Department’s headquarters on Thursday, October 29, when the participating principals will gather with officials to reflect on daily challenges and successes. They will also share their perspectives on key issues facing schools today and how federal policies, programs, and other resources can be deployed to better prepare and support school leaders.
“We know that the role of the principal is often misunderstood and underestimated, but shadowing visits highlight the crucial role principals play in creating a climate in which learning can happen,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “I thank and commend the Department for their ongoing support of principals, representing especially in the PAF program, which Secretary Duncan launched at the NASSP Ignite Conference in 2013. Their initiative to engage principals speaks to the Department’s commitment to honor and understand the work school leaders do each day.”
National Principals Month and Shadow-a-Principal Week offer an opportunity to celebrate the role of principals in strengthening teacher practice, raising student achievement, and improving schools. They also remind the public of the need for policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels to put a stronger focus on and provide greater funding for school leadership.
“We are pleased the Department will continue with the shadow visits to showcase the increasingly complex and multi-faceted role of principals, and how their role has been impacted by federal policies and programs, such as teacher evaluation and implementation of college and career readiness standards,” said Gail Connelly, Executive Director of NAESP. “This initiative will inform how important it is to better support principal leadership as the key to successful educational reform, and underscore the connections between strong principal leadership, teaching quality, and better student learning outcomes.”
The American Federation of School Administrators is the exclusive union for administrators, professionals and supervisors advocating for excellence and equity in all of our schools, workplaces, and communities. AFSA members are leaders in their schools and communities and are charged with the privilege and responsibility of helping to mold our nation’s students into successful, mindful individuals. As school leaders, AFSA members are constantly advocating for better public schools and systems of education. AFSA members are active in the labor movement and proudly stand in solidarity with all trade unionists and school administrators.
Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle school principals in the United States and internationally. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning through policy development, advocacy, professional development programs, and resources for effective instructional leadership. NAESP advances the profession on behalf of all principals, providing specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include preK–3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and capacity-building educator evaluation. To learn more about NAESP, please visit www.naesp.org/.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States and 35 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high-quality professional learning experiences.
About New Leaders
New Leaders is a national nonprofit that develops transformational school leaders and designs effective leadership policies and practices for school systems across the country. Since 2000, New Leaders has developed more than 2,500 principals and teacher leaders who reach 450,000 students annually, raising achievement levels and graduation rates in more than 15 districts and 100 charter schools nationwide. New Leaders further advances school leadership by publishing research and policy recommendations and by providing support to states and districts on the implementation of effective leadership policies, practices, and strategies.