Published Online: March 1, 2011
Published in Print: March 2, 2011, as NASSP Unveils Plans to Extend Its Reach Beyond Principals

NASSP Unveils a New Logo, Broader Focus

The changes speak to emerging leadership trends—and economics

The National Association of Secondary School Principals launched a new logo and, with it, a new focus on teacher leaders and others who have leadership responsibilities in schools, even if they don’t have the title of principal.

NASSP, based in Reston, Va., unveiled the change at its yearly convention last week. The old NASSP logo intentionally put the word “principals” front and center, but Executive Director Gerald N. Tirozzi said that as school leadership has become more complex, it makes sense to focus attention on all the personnel who keep a school running.

“We’re going to be much more aggressive in looking at teacher leaders and instructional leaders,” Mr. Tirozzi said.

But the changes are also intended to expand NASSP’s reach to new groups that might be willing to join the organization. The organization has seen its membership fall by 10 percent to 12 percent in the past five years, to under 26,000. The drop is attributed in part to declining financial support for schools from state and local jurisdictions, prompting some school boards to balk at paying dues for their members.

The changes at NASSP come as a number of education organizations are moving to joint ventures and shared resources to cope with dropping revenues.

For example, the Arlington, Va.-based American Association of School Administrators has announced plans to move into the offices of its Alexandria, Va., neighbor, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, in the next few years. The organizations plan to keep their own names and members, but will share staff. ("AASA, NAESP Announce Plan to Share Offices, Operations," Feb. 23, 2011.)

NASSP is also in talks to join that partnership.

“These conversations have been quietly going on for a couple of years,” Mr. Tirozzi said. The organizations will survive economic downturns, but the question is whether they will have the money to pay for the resources they’ve traditionally provided, he said.

“Over the next few years, I think you’re going to see some great new initiatives done collectively,” he said.

One example of the organization’s wider focus, he said, could be seen at its convention in San Francisco. The organization honored several “breakthrough schools,” which are middle and high schools that have high levels of poverty and are showing gains in student achievement. NASSP invited school leadership teams—principals, assistant principals, and teachers—to give presentations on what is working at those schools.

The broader focus will soon be seen at all levels of the organization, such as with resources, training, and publications. “The concept of leadership in a school is changing, and we have to change with the times,” Mr. Tirozzi said.

PDK Family

As more and more education groups move to band together, the experience of Phi Delta Kappa International, the umbrella organization of Phi Delta Kappa, the Future Educators Association, and the collegiate honor society Pi Lambda Theta, might offer a case study for other education organizations considering sharing resources.

The Future Educators Association was founded in 1937 by the National Education Association as a way to support high school students who were interested in teaching careers. Several other organizations supported the group until it found its latest home with PDK International in Bloomington, Ind., in 1994.

Pi Lambda Theta and Phi Delta Kappa were separately founded as collegiate honor societies for aspiring educators in the first two decades of the 20th century. Pi Lambda Theta was open to women only and Phi Delta Kappa was restricted to men, but both organizations in the 1970s expanded to include both genders.

Last October, Pi Lambda Theta joined PDK International, driven in part by financial necessity, said William J. Bushaw, the executive director of PDK International. “We have been able to utilize some efficiencies,” for example, with publication staff, he said.

But the three organizations now reflect the full pipeline into the profession, from high school and college students to professional educators and researchers. About 20,000 students are members of the Future Educators Association, Pi Lambda Theta has 12,000 members, and Phi Delta Kappa has about 33,000 members, he said. It’s easier now to find mentors for aspiring educators at every level, because high school students are more responsive to college students studying education, and college students are looking to younger, current teachers to share their experiences.

Some Pi Lambda Theta members were concerned that the 94-year-old organization might lose its identity as it became part of PDK International, Mr. Bushaw said. “They wanted to maintain their identity as a collegiate honor society, and they seem comfortable so far,” he said. The group refers to itself as a “family” of associations. Last month, the three groups held their first joint conference in Atlanta.

Vol. 30, Issue 22, Page 13

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