AASA, NAESP Launch National Aspiring Principals Academy

James Minichello, AASA

Kaylen Tucker, NAESP

Alexandria, Va. – August 12, 2019 – AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and the National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP) have launched a partnership geared to bolster the effectiveness and preparation for aspiring school principals throughout the country. 

Led by the two groups, the National Aspiring Principals Academy is a highly engaging, year-long professional learning experience. The goal of the academy is to produce transformational principals rather than traditional building managers. Graduates of the academy should be well equipped to lead 21st century schools with creativity, vision and a commitment to equity and excellence.

“As a superintendent for 27 years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to see excellent principals create positive learning cultures in their buildings to benefit the children and the communities they serve,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “We are thrilled to partner with NAESP because we know our academy will lead to increased success in developing a foundation for effective principal training.”

“Principals are key in leading dynamic learning communities,” said L. Earl Franks, executive director, NAESP. “Despite all we know about the critical role principals play, directly impacting all who are associated with a school—from the students and teachers to the custodians and bus drivers—there are serious cracks in the leadership pipeline that have led to principal shortages. We’re proud to team up with AASA in the creation of this program to prepare aspiring principals to meet the demands placed on today’s principals, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to thrive.”

The program follows a cohort model designed to support aspiring principals in acquiring the essential knowledge, skills and practices needed to advance to the next leadership level. This standards-based professional learning opportunity will provide an insightful blend of theory and practice through in-person sessions and a virtual platform, led by highly skilled, nationally recognized educational leaders and mentors.

Gail Pletnick, past AASA president and retired superintendent, is serving as one the academy’s lead instructors. “All of us who are dedicated to equity in education want to make certain that our public schools are the strongest education institutions possible. Our program is about real-world experiences, networking and creating opportunities for educators to engage in the work as building leaders.” 

Eric S. Cardwell, past NAESP president and former principal of Michigan’s Besser Elementary School, is also serving as an academy lead instructor. “What drives me is the absolute power of the position when it comes to making a positive difference in the lives of children, parents and staff, as we work together collectively as a learning community to create opportunities for our students. It is a professional honor to work with participants who are excited to enter the principalship.”

Anyone who aspires to become a principal and improve in their principal practice is encouraged to apply. Participants may be teacher leaders, assistant principals or early career principals. The academy is designed to support aspiring principals in acquiring the essential knowledge, skills and practices needed to advance to the next leadership level.

For more information about the National Aspiring Principals Academy, visit the AASA or NAESP websites, or contact Gail Pletnick at gpletnick@aasa.org or Eric Cardwell at ecardwell@naesp.org.


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

Principals are the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning. Since 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) has been the leading advocate for elementary and middle-level principals in the United States and worldwide. NAESP advances the profession by developing policy, advancing advocacy, and providing professional learning and resources for instructional leadership, including specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include pre-K–3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and effective educator evaluation. For more information about NAESP, please visit www.naesp.org.