Gail Connelly Retrospective

A Retrospective of Gail Connelly’s Decade as NAESP Executive Director

Gail Connelly
A 21st Century Leader

“I’d like to recognize the contributions of thousands of volunteer leaders and all those who have filled staff positions with NAESP over the years. All have served the organization staunchly through thick and thin, and many have made highly significant contributions that are reflected in the current well-being of the organization. I’d also like to sincerely thank our many corporate and foundation partners and sponsors. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one and my very best wishes for the future.”

—Gail Connelly

  • 2007

    Gail Connelly, former Florida educator, NAESP deputy executive director, and honorary National Distinguished Principal, is named NAESP’s sixth executive director. The Board of Directors commits to a shared leadership model; leads the development of Vision 2021 Transformations in Education and Vision 2021 Strategic Framework and Goals. NAESP launches the news aggregate Before the Bell. Professional liability insurance for NAESP Members increases to $1M plus up to $10,000 for due process legal services.

  • 2008

    NAESP builds on its strong legacy of influence with the White House, the USDOE and Congress. NAESP publishes Leading Learning Communities — reinforcing the role of principal as instructional leader. Releases Urban Principals Toolkit. The 2008 10-year Study of the K-8 Principal, reports that most principals work 56 hours a week, earn $74,000 annually, have a master’s degree — and 61% are women. Dream, Reach Succeed and Share the Dream Student Programs launch. NAESP’s global outreach includes an International Bulletin and Institutes.

  • 2009

    NAESP initiates the Power of the Principal campaign, including the television documentary The Principal Story, supported by The Wallace Foundation. Produces Principals’ Perspective series of advertorials in Education Week. Advances Learning First Alliance position on the federal role in education that promotes multiple measures of accountability. NAESP Radio debuts. Principal magazine wins prestigious EXCEL award for publication excellence, going on to win three more EXCEL awards and four APEX awards.

  • 2010

    For the first time in its 90-year history, NAESP introduces legislation to the U.S. Congress to support specific professional development for principals. 75% of NAESP members say Advocacy, PRINCIPAL magazine, and timely research and resources from NAESP are “important” or “extremely important.” Launches NAESP’s Career Center for Principals. Convenes a task force focused on the alignment of early childhood learning with grades K–3. Launches with Crayola theChampioning Creatively Alive Children grant program.

  • 2011

    NAESP’s advocacy team urges U.S. Department of Education to establish a Principal in Residence program and presses for reauthorization of ESEA on Capitol Hill, calling for adequate professional development for all principals. Establishes with NASSP a task force to examine principal evaluation. Develops the Roadmap to Rigor professional learning workshop. Establishes Friends of the Foundation Fund to endow leading and learning; Launches Foundation’s Club Connect with Dolphin Entertainment.

  • 2012

    NAESP leads against gun violence and publishes A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools. Race for Relevance guides NAESP’s shift to a “new normal.” NAESP focuses on three priorities: early career principals, high-touch membership strategies, and new technology.. ’The first-ever $1.2 million protected reserve fund is established for NAESP. A new interactive Principals’ Legislative Action Center expands grassroots advocacy. A review of NAESP’s Bylaws begins. NAESP’s Executive Director serves as chair of the Learning First Alliance , representing more than 10 million educators.

  • 2013

    Strong, sustained advocacy results in Principal Ambassador Fellowship (PAF) program at USDOE. Rethinking Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice impacts the field. National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year Program launches. Foundation’s Club Connect relaunches with United Way. West coast office for NAESP opens at Quantum Learning Network. State-of-the-art leadership simulations develop with UPenn. Develops Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice funded by VINCI Education. Expands the National Mentor Training and Certification Program.

  • 2014

    NAESP renews commitment to the Arts Education Partnership. W.K. Kellogg Foundation awards $1 million grant to support pre-K-3 development. The National Panel of New Principals, launches with1,000 principals from every state An online Center for New Principals is created. Professional liability insurance for NAESP members increases to $2M. NAESP’s Bylaws are overhauled for relevancy. The 30th anniversary of the National Distinguished Principals Program is celebrated. NAESP Best Practices for Better Schools™ is launched. NAESP Board dedicates “The Dawn Hochsprung Tree of Life” Memorial.

  • 2015

    Years of effort with Congress result in unprecedented recognition and support for principals in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Develops through NPBEA the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Develops and screens The Principals’ Perspective News Program with ITN Productions; features The Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center; launches Lunch & Learn membership initiative. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation funds afterschool and summer learning initiatives. Revitalizes the American Student Council Association program. Quaglia Institute features resources on principal voice.

  • 2016

    NAESP becomes a national expert on ESSA implementation, supporting states, districts, and principals. A Diversity Task Force is appointed, and Digital Leadership Ambassador Program, Digital Leader Early Learning Award, and Faces of NAESP membership campaign are introduced. NAESP redevelops the National Principals Resource Center featuring Best Practice Resources and Professional Workshops. Establishes the NAESP Faculty. Disburses $100,000 in arts and innovation grants to NAESP members. NAESP Board engages in succession planning and search for new Executive Director.

  • 2017

    NAESP rolls out Principals Action Plan for ESSA—an interactive toolkit. Major survey launches for 2018: 10-Year Study of the K-8 Principal. Develops the first NAESP/NASSP National Principals Conference. Initiates the development of Executive, Literacy & Global Leadership Institutes. Develops a Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy. Administers the 33rd annual President’s Education Awards Program, recognizing a record 2.8M students. NAESP announces that L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE from Alabama has been hired as the new Executive Director of NAESP effective July 1, 2017.

  • Next Steps

    Dr. L. Earl Franks is selected to serve as NAESP’s next executive director. “I am very appreciative and grateful to the NAESP Board of Directors for placing their trust in me to help further our mission, which is ‘to lead in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment to all children,’” said Franks.