October is National Principals Month!
Join the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of School Leadership Development and School Improvement as we thank the state’s principals for their leadership, dedication, and hard work, especially during these difficult times!
For National Principals Month, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and American Federation of School Administrators “seek to honor these unsung heroes for their tireless efforts in pursuit of excellence in education” during October annually.
However, this year’s safety recommendations and mandates such as masks, social distancing, vaccines, and testing have created an unprecedented challenge for principals across the nation. As schools moved forward with in-person learning, they were tasked with guaranteeing those safety measures were in place and the smooth transition for both students and educators.
After all, it is their responsibility to support families, educators, and school staff while ensuring much-needed resources are available to continue the learning process. To do so, principals will have to “reimagine education” and implement innovative ways to tackle “learning loss.”
There’s also the mental health crisis that experts predict will have a lasting impact on families and educators. There is no doubt that children, parents, teachers, and providers have suffered tremendously with all the changes, uncertainty, and loss. During the pandemic, parents with children ages 5-12 reported their children showed elevated symptoms of depression (4%), anxiety (6%), and psychological stress (9%); and experienced overall worsened mental or emotional health (22%), according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
In 2020, the CDC reported that children’s visits to the ER for mental health conditions increased 31 percent for those ages 12-17 and 24 percent for those ages 5-11, compared to 2019. For the 2021-2022 school year, principals will be charged with developing effective strategies, programs, and services to address the fear, trauma, and grief many have experienced due to the loss of family members, neighbors, colleagues, and other loved ones.
One of the most significant challenges ahead for principals will be discovering innovative ways to continue to create an environment that’s safe but still feels like, well, school. We have all experienced a lack of face-to-face interaction during COVID-19. However, we know that social interaction is critical to children’s development. There’s no one more suited to make these critical connections, adjustments, and improvements than principals.
This month, don’t forget to show your support and honor our principals by simply saying, “thank you.” Visit the 2021 National Principals Month website to select an e-card, personalize your message, and show principals how much you appreciate them.