Session Highlights

The complete session listing will be available on the 2017 National Principals Conference itinerary.


Hone in on job-embedded professional development, coaching, mentoring, and building leadership pipelines.


Learn how to promote mental health, social-emotional learning, and youth development.


Soak up knowledge on creating a trusting culture, building community support for change, and engaging in advocacy.


Focus on integrating students with a variety of backgrounds and needs—setting them up for whatever awaits them after grade 12.

Session Highlight: The State of American Education

The State of American Education

With a new president and Secretary of Education, several contentious debates continue to emerge throughout the education sector—carrying major implications for students and educators. Emerging issues include a growing school choice movement, questions about the appropriate federal role in education, a looming educator shortage crisis, and state implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. To further examine these topics, NASSP and NAESP have assembled a panel of five key education thought leaders, each with a unique perspective on these timely debates. This panel will expose attendees to an engaging and thought-provoking discussion while also providing them with an opportunity to ask difficult questions on these controversial issues.

Increasing Professional Capacity

K–12 Instructional Coaching to Enhance and Empower Student Learning

In this session, participants will learn how instructional coaching can enhance and empower student learning in elementary through high school. We will explore how to build a coaching culture, how to strengthen teaching and learning through a systems approach, and how to strengthen reflective practices with teachers and students. Attendees will take away practical strategies on how to create, implement, and enhance ongoing professional practice with their teachers. Plus, they will be given a step-by-step tool to create an instructional coaching program to meet the changing needs of students and teachers.

Rose Bilinski
K–12 Instructional Coach, Pottsgrove School District, Pottstown, PA
David Ramage
Principal, Pottsgrove Middle School, Pottstown, PA
Yolanda Williams
Principal, Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, Pottstown, PA
William Ziegler
Principal, Pottsgrove High School, Pottstown, PA
Kathleen Woods
Instructional Coach, Pottsgrove School District, Pottstown, PA

University and District Partnerships: Effective Strategies for Principal Preparation Programs

Principals create the conditions necessary to improve teacher practice and student performance. It is important to explore the key characteristics and activities that principal preparation programs provide to ensure that principals are effective from day one. Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Quality-Plus Leader Academy has established strong partnerships with principal preparation programs to ensure that candidates receive exemplary training to increase student achievement. This session investigates the linkage between effective principal preparation programs and school leader success strategies. In this session, participants will learn how program providers and practitioners can work collaboratively to more effectively prepare leaders for schools of the 21st century.

Karen Bryant
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Michelle Farmer
Director, Leadership Development, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Suwanee, GA
Glen Pethel
Assistant Superintendent of Leadership Development, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Suwanee, GA
Chandra Walker
Director, Leadership Development, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Suwanee, GA

Leveraging Teacher-Led Professional Learning to Impact Student Achievement

Empowering teachers to own their professional practice and growth is key to changing teacher practice so that it impacts student learning. In this session, attendees will examine practices and models that will invigorate district and school job-embedded professional learning with the newest and most innovative examples of transformative teacher-led professional learning experiences. Principals, assistant principals, and district leaders are often unaware of the strategies and tools available to them to lead this effort. This session will provide practical application of best practices. Participants will walk away understanding their role and how to move forward with innovative teacher-led professional learning.

Ann Cunningham-morris
Consultant and Author, ACM EdSolutions, LLC, Atlanta, GA

Elevating Student Efficacy

The K–12 Vertical Approach: Actions School Leaders Need to Know, Learn, and Do to Align and Foster Success for All

This session will provide participants with three critical concepts for supporting a leadership team in developing a seamless transition for students from elementary to middle to high school. Attendees will learn tools for developing a collaborative, cohesive, and effective leadership team, as well as structures for developing a K–12 common vision and mission that is carried out through a three-year strategic plan.

Eleanor Contreras
Principal, Anthony T. Lane Elementary School, Alexandria, VA
Martin Grimm
Principal, Hayfield Secondary School, Alexandria, VA
Joanne Jackson
Principal, Lorton Station Elementary School, Lorton, VA
Jessica Lewis
Principal, Hayfield Elementary School, Alexandria, VA
Michael Macrina
Principal, Island Creek Elementary School, Alexandria, VA
Jovon Rogers
Principal, Gunston Elementary School, Lorton, VA

Leadership that Integrates a Growth Mindset Culture Across the Curriculum

This session will provide school and district leaders with strategies that integrate the development of a growth mindset across all curriculum areas. Participants will learn specific strategies, backed by research, that have been successful in developing a growth mindset and improving student engagement in students that were previously not successful. Walk away with professional development models that can be used with staff to enable them to develop their own strategies as well as incorporate the strategies provided.

Michael Foran
2012 NASSP National High School Principal of the Year and Principal, New Britain High School Satellite Careers Academy, New Britain, CT
Steven Strand
Director of Teaching and Learning, Waterbury Public Schools, Waterbury, CT

Connecting Positive Climate, Culture, and Community

Learning Transformed: Eight Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today

We now know so much about the vast inequity that has existed for centuries and have a better handle on how students learn. Couple this with the predictions regarding the world that our students will face tomorrow, and it’s clear that utilizing a traditional, one-size-fitsall approach to teaching and learning is educational malpractice. Tomorrow’s schools must be intentionally designed today. In this session, Murray and Sheninger will dissect eight keys to systemic transformation, which each serve as a puzzle piece for redesigning the learning experience—allowing today’s modern learners leave ready to create new industries, find new cures, and solve world problems.

Thomas C. Murray
Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools/Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, D.C.
Eric Sheninger
Senior Fellow, International Center for Leadership in Education, Cypress, TX

Teaming: The Emotional Glue for School Culture

Teacher prep programs teach educators much about curriculum content and pedagogy, but very little about how to work effectively as adults in teams. Yet research clearly shows a strong, positive impact on student learning when teachers work together and focus on student success. In this session, participants will explore how to harness the energy of educators to work together so the school becomes a place where everyone thrives. They will learn teaming skills that build professional presence and foster student success. Attendees will walk away knowing the key factors to effective teaming— and with two new tools to put into practice the next day.

Simon T. Bailey
Speaker, Author and Partner, Releasing Leadership Brilliance Academy, Windermere, FL
Marceta Reilly
Partner, Releasing Leadership Brilliance Academy, Hoyt, KS

Lead Learners: Creating a Culture of Empathy, Innovation, and Empowerment

This session for school principals provides a research-based path to shaping a culture where students, teachers, parents, and administrative colleagues can not only take control of, but prioritize, their own learning objectives. Taking responsibility for making each other better, people and learners alike, is a major culture shift —and one that cannot be done alone. Participants will learn how these two mid-career educators have personally taken control of their learning as “lead learners,” and are now shaping a culture of empathy, innovation, and empowerment. This session is highly interactive and aimed to strengthen the network of each attendee.

Derek L. McCoy
Principal, West Rowan Middle School, Salisbury, NC
Joe Mazza
Professor/Researcher, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Personalizing Student Learning

Reaching Every Child: What Is It About Me You Can’t Teach?

Two NAESP principal mentors have discovered the difficulty of getting all subgroups of children to learn the curriculum and pass state assessments, and how teachers may feel incapable of reaching every child. This session will explore all types of characteristics of the children we serve and create an awareness of the need for teachers and schools to embrace that “less-than-perfect” child. Attendees will leave feeling empowered to inspire their teams to accept no excuses and to reach and teach every child.

Stephanie D.b. Johnson
Coordinator of Educational Leadership, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Diane C. Watkins
Director of Assessment and Accountability, Chesapeake Public School, Virginia Beach, VA

Moving from Effective to Highly Effective with Technology

In this session, participants will examine ways to support innovative learning environments by leveraging the power of technology. Attendees will come away with a working knowledge of how to harness the power of social media, web 2.0 tools, and devices. Participants will understand how a highly effective learning environment operates and what type of support structures are necessary to maintain a level of innovation that enhances students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach in ways once thought unimaginable.

Brad Currie
Supervisor of Instruction and Assistant Principal, Chester School District and Black River Middle School, Chester, NJ
Billy Krakower
Teacher, Beatrice Gilmore Elementary School, Woodland Park, NJ
Scott Rocco
Superintendent, Spotswood Public Schools, Spotswood, NJ