Reflecting on NAESP National Distinguished Principals Program

naesp ndpI never understood why people say, “it was a humbling experience” or “I feel so humbled to receive this.”  But I think now I fully understand that phrase. This week I attended the NAESP National Distinguished Principals Program in Washington DC as the Wisconsin 2014 Elementary Principal of the Year and had a humbling experience as I joined 60 other amazing school principals from across our nation (and those leading American schools overseas).  There were several points of the program that I thought to myself, “do I really deserve to be here?” or “I have to go back next week and be as awesome as these people are making me feel!”  In reality, I know that I was only able to have this experience because of how hard the staff in my building work each and every day to make our school the best school for our students.  I am blessed to have had the opportunity to hear about the great things happening in schools across the country, learn from their amazing leaders and reflect on the work that I can continue to do as a leader for our great school.  I made some incredible connections with these leaders and hope to keep connected with them through Twitter/Voxer to continue learning from them.


As I heard firsthand from principals about some of the challenges in their states, I was so thankful to be in Wisconsin.  I am thankful that our state has not gone as “high stakes” as some other states, like Florida or New York and that Wisconsin has things right with support for preK/K (see below).


I was even more fortunate to be a part of my first press conference.  I was asked by Mark White, president of NAESP, to join the press conference for NAESP’s release of the Early Learning Competencies for principals before the NDP event started.  What was even more exciting is that I got to join the Press Panel along with Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education.  Principals- I’ll have you know that we’ve had a number of our colleagues across the country working on this important work that I didn’t even know about!  This work brings research and best practices to the forefront to inform policy makers on what is best for children and to keep principals informed so that they can lead schools that include quality instruction for all students, including their youngest learners.  I was astonished to learn that there are states that still do not have full day kindergarten or preschool opportunities.  For those that do, research is finding a lack of alignment between preschool, kindergarten and the primary grade levels.  In addition, research found lack of resources/support for these programs and that they are often the position that a principal may transfer an ineffective teacher to, which obviously means lack of quality instruction.  I didn’t realize the importance of the work NAESP was doing on the early learning competencies, because Wisconsin already has it right


with 4 year-old kindergarten, full day Kindergarten and, speaking for my school, high quality instruction.  Most principals are licencesd preK-12th grade, yet don’t have the experience/training to be knowledgeable on what quality instruction looks like in prek/K grades.  You can read more by downloading the Leading PreK-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practices HERE.


And now, I just have to share some of my favorite pictures from the event!
Press Panel: Kristie Kauerz, Steve Tozer, Libby Doggett, myself and Kimbrelle Lewis
The amazing NAESP press crew!




Finally got to meet Tony Sinanis in person!



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NAESP president Mark White and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Zone 6 Principals
Zone 6 Principals


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jen @ MemberHub

    This is fabulous, Jessica! Congrats on the accomplishment and thanks for sharing your tales and pix from the event.

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