Featured Sessions

Your growth and learning come first—and with NPC20’s program lineup, you’ll walk away with knowledge, strategies, and best practices that will help you refine your practice and be a more effective leader.

This year’s program strands align with NASSP’s Building Ranks™ leadership framework: Building a Culture of Wellness, Building a Culture of Equity, Leading Learning for Today, and Leading Learning for Tomorrow. Each strand provides the training you need to address the biggest issues affecting your practice now and in the future.

Building a Culture of Wellness

Sponsored by Varsity Brands

Six Components to a Trauma-Informed School

This session will provide educators with a clear definition of trauma, describe the effect it has on students and staff, and provide a detailed method for transforming institutions to become trauma-informed.


  • Harrison Bailey
    Principal, Liberty High School, Bethlehem, PA
  • Nikolas Tsamoutalidis
    Assistant principal, Bethlehem, PA

Emphasizing a Culture of Wellness as We Reclaim the Urban American High School

The urban Hunters Lane High School went from “corrective action” to “good standing” status, with a 70 percent reduction in disciplinary incidents as a result of a whole school redesign. In this session, your speakers will detail successful student engagement strategies, including the introduction of innovations such as one lunch for all students and the “texting principal.” Additionally, you will engage in discussion surrounding developing an accountability system that is data driven, using a formalized continuous improvement process, and demanding growth that leads to a positive educational focus.


  • Susan S. Kessler
    Principal, Hunters Lane High School, Nashville, TN
  • April Snodgrass
    Assistant principal, Hunters Lane High School, Nashville, TN

Leaders Deserve Self-Care Too!

In an occupation of giving, we are susceptible to compassion fatigue and secondary trauma. In this session, we will discuss self-care and mindfulness and how these are important to protecting ourselves so we can properly help our staff and students. Attendees will learn ways to aid others as they experience trauma and will leave with a plan to support self, students, and staff. You have to take care of you!


  • Jonathan Apostol
    Principal, Monett Middle School, Columbia, MO
  • Cherie Austin
    Principal, Monett Intermediate School, Monett, MO

Digital Everything: Forever and for All to See

In this day of digital EVERYTHING, many teachers and administrators find themselves spending too much time dealing with online/digital-related issues affecting their students. This session gives school leaders a better understanding of how to minimize that by raising student awareness surrounding the reality of today’s online presence haunting them in the real world down the road, while also helping them understand how to rise above cyber-catastrophe or cyber-cruelty.


  • Catherine J. Bosley
    TV journalist and online advocate, CJB Productions, LLC

Building a Culture of Equity

Sponsored by Share Our Strength

Public School Policy: Trauma-Informed Schools From the Top Down

One in 3 children in every school have experienced trauma. Research shows that without support from principals, schools working to become trauma-informed will fail. Principals operating without the support of their central office often abandon the effort due to lack of funding.


  • Melissa Sadin
    Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools director, Attachment & Trauma Network, Somerville, NJ

Forming and Managing Effective Community Partnerships That Help At-Risk Students Succeed

Every day, students are facing challenges outside of the classroom that keep them from succeeding inside the classroom—poverty, anxiety, poor health, and trauma. Effectively leveraging community partnerships helps at-risk students stay in school and on a path to graduation. This interactive session led by current and former principals and a community-based organization leader will provide actionable tools that will help school leaders surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and succeed in life.


  • Lisa Walls
    Principal at Chapa Middle School, Kyle, TX
  • Shaunna D. Finley
    Principal external professional development partner, Communities In Schools, Arlington, VA
  • Chris P. Gabriel
    Executive vice president, Children and Family services division, Volunteers of America, Shreveport, LA

Equity and Excellence Now: The 90 90 90 Solution

In this interactive session, Dr. Douglas Reeves will share the latest research on the most effective strategies that have an impact for all students, especially in schools with students from low-income families. “It’s practices, not programs,” Dr. Reeves concludes. “It’s not what we buy, but rather what we do that makes the largest difference for equity and excellence.”


  • Douglas Reeves
    Author, speaker, Creative Leadership Solutions, MA

Beyond the Cliche of Positive School Culture—Creating a Culture of Family

Imagine what schools could be if we truly built a positive school culture for all individuals. Marginalized students are often missed, and while student leaders help define the school’s culture, those students tend to be the top-performing students academically or athletically. School leaders should stop to consider the middle group, the unflashy students who are often overlooked. True school culture exists when all students feel included within a positive atmosphere where truly diverse populations of students are heard.


  • Bryan A. Marshall
    Principal, Brandon High School, Brandon, MS
  • Marcus Stewart
    Assistant principal, Grade 12, Brandon High School, Brandon, MS

Leading Learning for Today

Sponsored by: Napoli Shkolnik PLLC

Bring Your Best Self to School Every Day: The Critical Truths All Principals Need to Know to Be Effective

Remember when you wanted to become a school leader? How you were going to inspire others to be great? Do you still have that same fire? We all can do better when we have a better understanding of the skills we need to become more effective leaders. Jimmy Casas—22-year veteran principal and bestselling author of Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes. and his latest release, Live Your Excellence: Bring Your Best Self to School Every Day—will share shortcomings and critical truths he learned the hard way on his path to becoming a state and national award-winning principal.


  • Jimmy Casas
    Educator, author, speaker, and leadership coach, Chicago, IL

The Leadership Gap: Developing Cultural Competencies

This session examines how school leaders can adopt and implement proactive measures inside and outside the classroom to assist more marginalized students to reach their fullest potential. Our schools have become increasingly diverse, and our students of color are impacted the most. By challenging our biases, exploring individual school data, and building on proven cultural competency strategies that foster academic success, participants will leave with an actionable plan that includes specific strategies for their schools and all of their students.


  • Omekongo Dibinga
    Professor of Cross-Cultural Communication, American University and director of UPstander International, Washington, D.C.

Assistant Principal Field Guide: Maximizing Your Impact

The role of assistant principal can be a difficult balancing act, consisting of discipline, parent communication, attendance, instructional leadership, cafeteria duty, counseling, innovation, and more. This session will share practical strategies for balancing your roles and maximizing your impact as an assistant principal. Participants will engage in reflective conversations, network-building activities, and personal action planning. The field guide is all about simplifying to maximize.


  • Jared Wastler
    Assistant principal, Lower Dauphin High School, Hummelstown, PA

How to Get All Teachers to Be Like the Best Teachers

All schools have teachers with varying ranges of gifts and talents. Within this range there are special teachers who have the ability to connect with all students and deliver highly effective instruction. These amazing teachers have an incredible daily impact on students and learning. If all teachers could become more like the most effective teachers, we would have significant improvement in every school. This session focuses on what leaders can do to get all teachers to be like their very best teachers.


  • Todd Whitaker
    Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Leading Learning for Tomorrow

Lead With Grace: Leaning Into the Soft Skills of Leadership

Do you love what you do, but at times struggle with the necessary interactions and communication skills that could elevate interactions in all aspects of your life? Jessica Cabeen shares practical examples from her successes and epic failures of utilizing skills to build authenticity, vulnerability, and empathy in day-to-day interactions. Participants will walk away with practical tips and ways to apply these skills in their communications and relationships, all while navigating the world of social media.


  • Jessica Cabeen
    Principal, Ellis Middle School, Austin, MN

Doing School Differently: How Student Agency and Out-Of-The-Box Thinking Will Change Schools Forever

Students need to be thinkers and problem-solvers to succeed in the 21st century! We all learn better when learning is relevant, meaningful, and interesting. We need to help teach our students how to think critically, communicate effectively, problem-solve, and become agents of their learning. If principals establish a culture that values student success and encourages risk-taking and individual pursuit of skills, interests, and aptitudes, then creativity and choice are logical next steps. Schools must take advantage of student interests to make learning meaningful and relevant.


  • Jay Billy
    Principal, Ben Franklin Elementary School, Lawrenceville, NJ
  • Mariah Rackley
    Principal, Cedar Crest Middle School, Lebanon, PA, and 2018 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year

Preparing Students for Their Future, Not Yours

This is your session for engaging in change talk and practices that will make your schools more relevant, responsive, and centered on preparing learners for their future and needs, not ours. Join this interactive session to learn high-impact strategies, popular trends, and proven learning theories that will shift your focus from the one-size-fits-all approach to the strategies, applications, and real work that truly serves learners.


  • David Guerin
    Principal, Bolivar High School, Bolivar, MO, and 2017 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year
  • Darren Ellwein
    Principal, Harrisburg South Middle School, Harrisburg, SD, and 2017 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year
  • Derek McCoy
    Director of Learning and Innovation, Grady County Schools, Cairo, GA

Personalized Education: Buzzword or Game Changer?

Educators are great at jumping all-in with a buzzword before knowing if it’s a game changer worthy of our time and effort. What about personalization? Should we focus on personalizing education or will we look back one day and regret following a fad? Let’s have an honest discussion about personalization—what it means, what it looks like, what’s working, and what could be—with the goal of helping each other and leading our schools to better meet the individual needs of our students.


  • Scott Habeeb
    Principal, Salem High School, Salem, VA

State of American Education

Other speakers to be announced.

The 2020 National Principals Conference will be the sixth occasion for the NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center to host a session on the State of American Education. This year, school leaders will get a glimpse of what education may look like depending on the outcomes of the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. Principals will have the opportunity to hear from a diverse panel of thought leaders in education who will share their election predictions well as from current or former educators involved in the legislative process at the local, state, or federal level.


  • Hon. Melissa Provenzano
    Oklahoma House of Representatives, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Randi Weingarten
    President, American Federation of Teachers, Washington, D.C.
  • Glenn Robbins
    Superintendent, Brigantine Public Schools, Brigantine, NJ

There’s more where that came from—check out our NPC20 thought leader sessions for additional learning opportunities.

View Thought Leaders