Press | New Leaders and Partner Organizations Applaud USED “Shadow a Principal” Visits

Alexandria, VA—The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and New Leaders commend the dozens of high-ranking officials from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) who will shadow PreK12 principals in the Washington, D.C. area this week and support continued focus on school leadership. The goal of the shadow effort is to gain a better understanding of the role of instructional leaders and look at policy, programs, and resources that are needed to do the job successfully. The shadow visits mark a continued celebration of National Principals Month in October.

The visits will be followed by a briefing facilitated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. ED staffers participated in a similar activity over the past two years, which led to the creation of the Principal Ambassador Fellowship program. Jill Levine, the 20142015 Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow and principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet, a PreK through eighthgrade school in Chattanooga, TN, coordinated key visits on behalf of the agency.

“We are excited that U.S. Department of Education officials are taking the time to gain this firsthand knowledge of the role of principals,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “It is our hope that the shadowing visits will help these officials when it comes to federal policy decisions and finding ways to best support our nation’s principals and the schools they lead.”

The shadowing events will culminate in an afternoon debriefing session with Secretary Duncan at the Department’s headquarters on Thurs., Oct. 30, where the participating principals will gather with the ED officials to share their experiences and talk about lessons learned. Being shadowed allows principals the opportunity to share daily challenges and successes with policymakers and to provide the principals’ perspective on federal policy, programs, and resources that are currently needed to help them lead learning communities.

“The shadow visits will showcase the increasingly complex and multifaceted 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. “It is critical that principals share how their leadership is key to the success of any education reform and receive ongoing support for their efforts to help every student succeed.”

Officials in regional ED offices will also be shadowing principals around the country throughout the week.

National Principals Month is a time to celebrate the role of principals in raising student achievement and improving schools, while also reminding the public of the need for greater support in leadership development to ensure principals have the resources they need to be successful.

“Simply put, all school improvement efforts have to start with the principal,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. “School leaders are responsible for developing and supporting our nation’s teachers and for building schools that support great teaching, meaningfully engage families and communities, and foster the academic achievement and social development of our kids. We are thrilled the Department is shining a spotlight on this important role.”


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. For more information about NAESP, please visit

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 provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance.