Hello, Amazing Leader!
We hope you are doing well as you lead with and for your students, staffulty, and school community! Your leadership matters which is why there is an entire month dedicated just to you. It’s National Principals Month.
What does it mean to be a principal or assistant principal? It means you are changing lives every day. You are working tirelessly to make a forever impact on the lives of each and every student in your school. You are digging in daily to create hope for the entire school. You are pushing to eliminate bad-for-kids systems. You are willingly getting out of your car every morning, walking into semi-controlled chaos, and leading everyone through ever-changing contexts and circumstances. You are pretty much super-human.
National Principals Month is a simple way of bringing much-needed attention to the work and impact of your leadership. But, is a month-long celebration enough? No way. One month doesn’t do you or your leadership any justice. Through their research, The Wallace Foundation consistently reaffirms the important role school principals play not just in student achievement, but in establishing and sustaining school culture. Effective and consistent leadership has an immeasurable impact on students, staffulty, and the entire school community. Bottomline, as Governor Gregoire once said to me, “Show me a great school and I’ll show you a great principal.”
At AWSP, we are not only celebrating National Principals Month throughout October, but we are also calling this year “The Year of the Principal.” We believe there has never been a more important time in educational history than right now to call attention to the plight of our school leaders. Over the course of the last ten years, the job, workload, and expectations have grown exponentially to a point where the “principaling” is often untenable and unrealistic. Principal job satisfaction is declining, principal turnover is increasing, and applicant pools are shrinking. This is all bad for kids. Something has to change. If the research is so clear on the importance of highly effective and consistent leadership, then why isn’t the system frantically coming together to address this current leadership crisis?
Being a school leader is the best job in the world, but it is also one of the most challenging. We, as an entire system, need to come together to advocate for change in order to help our leaders both thrive and stay in their current roles. This advocacy is complex and needs to happen at multiple levels. Thanks to years of compounding legislative changes, new initiatives, unfunded mandates, policy changes, societal pressures, and social media (just to name a few), unraveling this mess is not a one-size fits all approach.
As we enter the Year of the Principal, we are focusing our energy and efforts on three big questions:
What changes need to be made at the legislative level to bring relief to expectations placed on principals?
What big “P” and little “p” policy changes need to occur to make the job of “principaling” more manageable and realistic?
What systems can be implemented at the district level to both support and protect principals and assistant principals as they lead change initiatives within their learning organizations?
As you can see, AWSP is advocating at varying state levels, as well as the local level, to provide immediate short-term relief while working toward a better and brighter future for school leaders. One fix won’t solve the issue. One association can’t tackle this alone. This must be a collective multi-agency and organization initiative that hits at all levels of policy. If we all truly believe in the power of an incredible school principal, then we must all come together in collective action to save our school principals.
So, as you think about your impact as a school leader, please know that every ounce of AWSP energy is focused on you and your needs. We will of course celebrate you throughout National Principals Month but will not rest until your narrative is changed during the entire Year of the Principal.
Thank you for your ongoing leadership and Happy National Principals Month!
Dr. Scott Seaman
Executive Director, AWSP