April 2017 Print

President's Report

The definition of collaboration, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.”  As professional educators we collaborate all the time.  We learn from each other and share ideas.  At Century High School, where I am currently and assistant principal, we have tried to create an environment that is conducive to collaboration.  We are an academy school.  The planning rooms are actually our academy rooms.  Teachers that have the same planning mod are in the same academy.  Our teachers are encouraged to work in the planning room during their planning period.  Some really great ideas have come out of these collaborative planning sessions.  A math teacher and an art teacher decided to collaborate using the art work of Escher and tessellations.  The collaborative plan presented a real life application of geometry.

MASSP is a great way to collaborate and share ideas.  Recently we discussed ideas for future conferences.  The idea of a TED talk surfaced. TED is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan "ideas worth spreading". We are investigating the possibility of a TED talk for a future conference.  In the meantime please continue to use the MASSP network to share ideas.

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2017 National Principals Conference


The NASSP convention is ALL NEW this year.  I know for some, you missed having a break in February to a convention city as we have done for many years.  But THIS year presents many possibilities.  First, we join our NAESP colleagues.  This is truly a National Principals Conference, Pre-K to 12.  A summer conference allows you to attend without missing school, and most likely, securing permission to attend from the central office should be easy.  Finally, it’s close.  Philadelphia is an easy drive our train ride.

We are excited to host a state dinner for the first time.  We realized we could actually join with Lifetouch and run an off site dinner in a very cost effective way.  Open bar and lots of food will be available to all attendees from Maryland immediately following the opening exhibit hall reception on Sunday evening.  The restaurant is within easy walking distance of the convention center. 


Connecting great leaders across all levels, the 2017 National Principals Conference is the first-ever joint national conference of Pre-K–12 school leaders. This dynamic conference and its four session strands will motivate you to collaborate across the continuum and shape the trajectory for student success. Come to Philadelphia, July 9–11, 2017, and turn theory into practice, create opportunities across all grade levels, and make connections that will last far beyond the conference. Visit www.principalsconference.org for details.


At the 2017 National Principals Conference, get ready to make the conference your own. With four session strands to choose from—Increasing Professional Capacity; Elevating Student Efficacy; Connecting Positive Climate, Culture, and Community; and Personalized Student Learning—you will hear more than just theory. You’ll get detailed insight you need to enact real change in your school and walk away with tangible solutions. Come to Philadelphia this July 9–11 for a completely different learning experience at the first-ever joint national conference of Pre-K–12 school leaders. Learn more at www.principalsconference.org.

Thought Leaders

At the 2017 National Principals Conference, three Thought Leaders will share their unique knowledge and experiences to enrich your leadership. Sherry Turkle, Michael Schmoker, and Kevin Carroll will provide you with a renewed passion to enact real change in your school. From technology to leading with focus to social change, each of these conference Thought Leaders will bring something different and useful for our nation’s school administrators. Learn from them and other accomplished principals at this first-ever joint national conference of Pre-K through grade 12 school leaders July 9–11 in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more about this groundbreaking conference at www.principalsconference.org.


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Greetings from President Elect

As your new President Elect for this current year, I must share that I am honored to work in this role.  This role will allow me to observe, support and look at the direction of the “road head”.  Since joining the MASSP organization, I have served in the capacity of general member (Baltimore City Rep) and as a committee support member (Spring Committee) for a number of years. I am currently a principal with Baltimore City Public Schools at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy.  As an educator with BCPSS for 22 years, it has afforded me many opportunities to connect with colleagues across the state of MD and beyond.  In my efforts to stay connected, I have joined and participated in a number of organization and associations.  Nothing has been more rewarding than my memberships with both the NASSP/MASSP organization, it has allowed me to connect with colleagues on a local and national level. My goals as the president elect will focus on increasing membership from all LEAs, on consistently reaching out and connecting with MAESP, on providing relevant and meaningful professional development and spearheading the move to ensure that our voices are heard in support of funding education.  As principals, it is our duty to continue the work to ensure we continue to develop and support principals and assistant principal leaders of tomorrow. Our supports must reflect out-of-the-box thinking and generate new and innovating ideas that support the ever changing direction of education.  I am excited about this president elect position and l look forward to working together in the future.

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Ass't Principal Highlights

Consider becoming an executive board member as an Assistant Principal at Large. In addition, we will be soliciting nominations for Assistant Principal of the Year AND planning committee members for next year's AP conference.  


To become an executive board member at large as an AP requires the following:


1) Serve on the AP conference planning committee which includes serving as a judge for AP       of the year.

2) Attend 4 executive board meetings held on Saturday mornings (TBD)

3) Register for and attend the annual spring conference and the AP conference



Email Exec Scott Pfeifer if you are interested in any of these activities.  We expect to hold the AP conference planning meetings via conference call.


Don't forget that once again next year we will over the opportunity for assistant principals to apply for leadership development scholarships.




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Are you Retiring this year?

Email MASSP if you plan to retire and we will update your membership records.  We encourage every member to actually renew your membership for at least one year as a retired member (only $90) because doing so keeps your legal and liabillity coverage intact in case something arises from the past!


We also would love to have a recent retiree in every district actually work (just a little bit) for MASSP by approaching all new administrators in your district (and others) to encourage them to join MASSP/NASSP.  Such a personal approach goes Sooo much farther than emails from the MASSP office in getting folks involved.  Best of all for YOU, we will pay you $75 for every new member you recruit.  We actually paid one individual over $1000 last year for their efforts.  Contact exec Scott Pfeifer if you are interested.

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Spring Conference 2017 re-Cap

Thanks to the more than 100 folks who attended the spring conference at the Cambridge Hyatt.  Thanks also goes to our great conference committee chaired by Shannon Zepp and Christina Dougherty.  Conference evaluations indicate broad satisfaction along with some valuable feedback we can use as we plan future conference.  


Follow the link below to the MASSP Facebook page to view candid pics from this year's conference.


MASSP Facebook Page


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Reflections on the Spring Conference from Frederick County principal Mita Badshah


As a principal, I always want professional learning opportunities that give the most out of time I spend learning.  When I look for conferences, I want ones where I am going to use what I learned the next day at school.  While it is nice to go see ideas and hear nationally renowned speakers, it is even better to be able to put them to use immediately.  Another factor that carries substantial weight for me is the cost of the conference.

At the Spring MASSP conference, I have found the best of both worlds.  This conference is within driving distance; brings in top notch speakers and is very cost effective.  But, there is more!  The whole conference is set up in a wonderful location and designed to give you reflection and networking time. 

The Spring MASSP Conference at the Hyatt golf Resort and Spa in Cambridge MD provided a 3-day learning event that was fun, productive and useful.  Carol Ann Tomlinson led two sessions on Differentiated Learning.  Being able to listen to such a high profile, valued educator was an incredible experience. She even agreed to take a selfie with me.  The other concurrent session offered topics that are of value and interest.  I attended one of legal issues A-Z that provided succinct, helpful information on topics that trip up many principals. That evening I attended an elegant dinner where the MASSP Principal of the Year awards were presented.  Along with that, I heard sound information on the new standards for Principal Evaluation.

Throughout the conference, I met dedicated, passionate people who championed public education.  There were plenty of vendors who offered lots of demonstrations on the newest products. In fact, on the first night, after driving through a cold rainy afternoon, I was treated to a sumptuous Vendor reception where I could sample delicious food and drink and peruse novel products and ideas.

I am sold on attending this conference each year.  If you are a member, start looking to next year.  Rick Wormeli will be the Keynote Speaker!  If you are not a member, then join.  It is the best investment in your professional learning you will make. 

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Legislation update

The legislative session overall was not a combative one from an education perspective.  Early on, there did not appear to be any major budget battles.  The one fiscal issue that took a lot of wrangling related to finding funds to assist Baltimore City and their fiscal crisis.  Ultimately, the powers that be found a way to assist the city without making it appear to be a total bail out.  Instead, the compromise was reached to assist any district facing declining enrollment.  That included the city, plus several other jurisdictions.  All of them got some funding, but Baltimore City got the lion’s share.


The governor continues to seek expanded authority in the state to create more charter schools.  But it does NOT appear the legislature is willing to grant that authority.  Hogan is right in line with the national scene and the Trump/Devos efforts to support not only charters but also voucher programs that funnel public money to private schools.  Without legislation out of Annapolis, even the conservative state board of education is somewhat powerless to move forward on this agenda. 


MSEA is clearly flexing their political clout to ensure a more conservative educational agenda does NOT take hold in Maryland.  To ensure that goal requires bypassing the ever increasingly conservative state board of education and finding ways to make education policy in Annapolis.  That happened in two key ways this session.


First, the legislature passed a bill capping testing time for state and federal tests to no more than 2.2% of instructional time.  In addition, LEAs are required to form a committee at the local level that monitors testing policies.  The committee must contain a broad range of stakeholder groups. 


Second, the legislature passed a bill over a potential executive veto that dictated important parameters of the ESSA accountabililty plan for Maryland.  This bill usurped authority traditionally reserved for the state board of education.  One key point prohibits the state from adopting an A-F school rating system.  The other key point limits the percentage of a school’s rating that is based on test scores. 


MASSP has no problem with any part of these two bills, but feels it sets a dangerous precedent regarding how education policy is set in Maryland.  I was at the state school board meeting when they were discussing school ratings.  Honestly, my gut feeling was that at the secondary level, the board would have adopted a plan that would have aligned fairly closely with this new legislation.  I DO think that we will see more and more education policy set in Annapolis in future years, because the state board will continue become more and more conservative.  MSEA, therefore, will continue to play an active role.


MASSP works closely with MABE and PSAAM in monitoring and attempting to influence legislation.  We post regular updates during the session on our website thanks to former exec for MASSP Gene Streagle.  Below, use this link to read a comprehensive summary of this past legislative session courtesy of MABE 



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Calendar of Events

October 17, 2017: Ass’t Principals Conference in Catonsville

March 15, 2018: Spring Conference with Rick Wormeli.  Most likely to be held again at the Cambridge Hyatt

Future plans include more Aspiring Leaders WorKshops, a workshop with Jay McTighe, an MASSP sponsored EdCamp, and a TED talks event.  STAY TUNED!! Dates and locations to be determined.

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Federal Grass Roots Network in Action on Capitol Hill

MASSP members Nick Novak, Stephanie Farmer, Cynthia Thomas, Ayanna Briscoe, and Kim McClurkin spoke for principals with Maryland's congressional delegation this past week.  We know we preach to the choir to most of them (We did not meet with Andy Harris' office), but it is important that we acknowledge their support for principals and ensure they know what our priorites are.  At the top of the list was protection of Title IIA professional development funding that supports both membership dues and conference attendance for many MASSP members.  We also shared our concerns regarding any voucher funding.  Another important issue is reauthorization of the Perkins act that provides critical funding for CTE initiatives.  There is indeed hope for bipartisan support for this issue.  Pictured here is our MASSP delegation with Senator Chris Van Hollen


Many thanks to those folks who joined us on the hill.  Any member is welcome to join the NASSP Federal Grass Roots network.  You can find information at the NASSP website.  Pictured to the left is Congressman Jamie Raskin along with PGN member and assistant principal at Ridgeview Middle School Kim McLurkin and MASSP Executive Director Scott Pfeifer.  Mr. Raskin was excited to meet with us and vowed to trumpet Maryland schools on the floor of the House in the coming weeks.  We provided him several reasons why Maryland schools continue to rank number one in the nation, including the quality of school leadership!

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High School Principal of the Year

Sandra G. Reid has always believed in the value of a great education.  After receiving her BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, she continued to pursue her love of learning by earning a Masters in Education in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Over the past twenty-six years with Baltimore County Public Schools, she has served as an AP history educator, mentor teacher, assistant principal on both the middle and high-school levels, as well as a middle-school principal. In 2015, she was appointed to be the principal of Pikesville High School where she promoted collaboration between students, parents, teachers and the community so as to bring acclaim to the school. She is BCPS' Principal of the Year for 2016-2017 and remains passionate about transformative instructional leadership and cultivating a culture of high-caliber teaching and learning.

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Middle School Principal of the Year

                                                 Arundel Middle School Principal George Lindley has long been known as an educator who quickly deflects credit to others for the successes at schools which he leads. Lindley is in his second year as principal of Arundel Middle School after serving for ten years as principal at Lindale Middle School  - both in Anne Arundel County. Although the two schools are very different, Lindley’s leadership has had a strong influence on the two communities where he has served as principal.

When Lindley arrived at Arundel Middle School, school leadership was struggling with low morale among staff and students and a history of disparate levels of performance among student groups.  Working with the leadership team, Mr. Lindley quickly established professional learning communities that focused on student engagement and on clearly articulated expectations for student behavior. Creating a climate of shared responsibility and empowerment was his first priority for AMS, and he did so by setting up structures that provide avenues through which staff, faculty, students, and parents have a voice in school processes and procedures. By the end of Mr. Lindley’s first year at AMS, math performance rose 15% over the year before. The focus on instructional practices to engage students has helped the AA referral rate to drop from 49% in SY '14/'15 to 44% today – and that continues to drop.

That same philosophy was evident in Mr. Lindley’s leadership at Lindale Middle School, where he established the STEM program, an ESOL cluster, and outstanding PBIS and AVID programs. Throughout his career as a school leader, Mr. Lindley has modeled his belief that relationship-building is critical, especially with middle school students. He is a presence in the halls, in the classrooms, and in the cafeteria, as well as at extra-curricular events. He values the relationships and perspectives of all of the stakeholders in the building – students, staff, parents, community members, and organizations. The inclusive nature of his leadership has gone far in contributing to the change in the culture and climate of both Lindale Middle and Arundel Middle Schools.

Since arriving in AACPS in 1992, Lindley has served as a social studies teacher at Chesapeake Bay Middle School, administrative intern and assistant principal at Southern High School, assistant principal at Marley Middle School, and principal at Lindale and Arundel middle schools. Said Superintendent George Arlotto: “George Lindley epitomizes the caring, compassionate, committed, and calm demeanor that every outstanding educator possesses. Most importantly, every task he undertakes is done with the best interests of every one of his students in mind. He is incredibly deserving of this award, and we are very proud that he is on the AACPS team.”

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Executive Director Report

Things have been busy this spring for MASSP.  We held a successful Aspiring Leaders workshop in February, and greeted our State Superintendent at our February executive board meeting.  Planning for the spring conference took extra time given that we were at a new venue.  Unfortunately, the Hackathon workshop idea did not resonate with folks, so we cancelled that.  I hope to try ONE MORE workshop in June on a Saturday employing on of NASSP’s signature workshops.  Stay tuned.


Membership continues to lag a bit.  If anyone has ideas on how I can BEST engage folks in actually renewing their memberships, please let me know.  Currently, folks get at least one paper invoice in the mail, and then I send multiple emails.  But I still miss many folks.  Ideas are welcome.


It has been fascinating to attend State Board meetings this year.  The board continues to get more and more conservative, but what makes it even MORE FASCINATING these days is that the legislature is taking over more and more policy decisions usually reserved for state board action.  This is mainly as a result of MSEA taking the bull by the horns and avoiding policy decisions that pursue a more conservative course than in earlier times.  Decisions regarding testing and the ESSA accountability plan coming out of the legislature, in general, are friendly to school based administrators.  Let’s hope it stays that way.


I hope the board chooses to keep me around for another two years.  But it is never too early to talent spot.  If anyone is considering retiring July 1, 2019 and you think you might have an interest in the job of MASSP executive director, give me a call.  I would love to talk with you about it. 


If anyone expects to retire THIS year, please let me know so we can update your membership record.


Please think about attending the National Principals conference in Philly July 9 – 11 this year.  We have a great state dinner planned in conjunction with Lifetouch.  Register on line at the NASSP website.


This is the final newsletter of the year.  I hope everyone has a great summer (if I don’t see you in Philly).  I have plans to travel to Iceland and Scandinavia, then Philly, and finally an RV trip to the Upper Michigan Peninsula.  But I always keep in touch while traveling, so don’t hesitate to contact MASSP for any needs you might have.

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MASSP has some great partners






















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Earn a cash reward for member recruitment!

Can you use and extra $25?  Recruit a new member to NASSP/MASSP, email exec Scott Pfeifer when you do, and when we receive a membership check or notice of payroll deduction, we will send YOU a check for $25.  How simple!  But it requires focus on you, our existing members, part.  So spread the word.  Be an MASSP ambassador.  In unity there is strength, and we become a more effective voice for administrators around the state when more folks join us.  Membership has increased these past three years, but we can do better.  But the secret to success rests with YOU, our current members.  Help us spread the word and earn cash for your effort.

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School Boards as Stewards

School Boards as Stewards


In most of our lifetimes, public schools were seen as the bedrock of our nation and a source of pride for our communities. They were places to realize the American dream, where the playing field could be leveled and children could pursue their aspirations and have a life better than their parents. 


The idea, which is uniquely American in many respects, was that it didn’t matter where you came from or who your parents were. Neither did your race, ethnicity or socio-economic status. What mattered was hard work and perseverance to learn and hone abilities and contribute to the future.


Free public schools nourished the concept that what you know matters more than who you know. Common people coupled with an education, talent, and drive could counter social status and elitist contacts based on wealth or position. Only in America is there a Fanfare for the Common Man, instead of fanfares for some inherited royalty or elitist privilege. Public education celebrated the possibilities in the “common” diverse citizenry.




Local school board members are stewards of the principles of public education. Stewardship rests on responsibility, a sense of the future, and a commitment to the common good. As citizens holding elective office, board members have a responsibility to take long term care of the public schools and protect the community's investment and the interests of children. They should leave the schools in better condition than they were prior to their holding office. Making difficult and unpopular decisions today so the schools are better tomorrow is the role of a steward.


Stewards add value to the community, rather than diminish it. Board members interested in their own self-interest of getting re-elected can compromise stewardship for expediency or their own popularity. Only in looking back do we realize which public officials, from presidents to school board members, have been good stewards. Inquiry is the foundation for stewardship. The board must ask questions and inquire into the principles behind proposals, the research base to support them, the reasons for and the costs of initiatives, and the expected results and accountability procedures to ensure proper implementation and outcomes. Sometimes educational and political decisions overlap and local boards must be able to rise above local, state, or national politics to do what is best for children in their local community.


Stewardship requires courage to face special interests, the economically connected, the politically powerful, and the criticism of pundits and the press. Some board members and superintendents are cowardly lions in the face of economic, social and political pressures. Doing what is expedient takes less courage than doing what is right. Decisions and pressure are a part of public life, but those decisions should look to the future and support core values and the common good.


Running schools is not easy or always efficient. Democratic governance never is. But it is better than elites or corporations deciding the future of our children and the education they receive. Marketing is not synonymous with results and reformers are not always interested in the common good. Locally elected school boards epitomize what the founders believed. Democracy, while not perfect, is preferable to self-interest and the control of corporations or special interests. Public schools are an indispensable foundation of our democratic society. Keeping public schools democratic, rather than agents of corporations or partisan politics, is absolutely essential.


Important debates


What boards debate about and how they do it is an indicator of whether they are in touch with the essence of the school's purpose and soul. The focus of the debate defines their efficacy as a group. Discussing the issues in the form of dialogue generates understanding and better comprehension of the basic assumptions behind different options and the thinking and values behind them. Dialogue is an essential component of stewardship.


Dialogue allows people to see divergent points of view and respectfully consider options. Listening actively and clarifying for understanding are important. Dialogue is more than a discussion. It involves reflecting together, understanding the content and intent of messages and ideas, inquiring into the assumptions behind concepts and proposals, suspending judgment and ultimately creating shared meaning. Determining a collective vision for the public schools requires open and respectful dialogue. Obviously one standard is that “the best interests of the children” be the determining factor. Obviously, resources are not unlimited, local or political issues affect decisions, and when a decision is made, everyone will not be happy.


Board members must ask thoughtful questions and do due diligence as part of their responsibilities to the citizenry. They must find common ground and positive connections in the school community by establishing clear values and principles under which the school district operates. Whether a school community is true to itself is a matter of integrity. To be a good steward of the public education, board members have to ensure the honor of the school district by making its actions, words, and programs congruent with its core values and principles. All this presupposes the board and the community have a dialogue about the schools and the ideas under which they function. Dialogue on principles is positive and can instigate growth.


The common good through strong schools should be the board of education’s primary focus. Citizenship emphasizes responsibilities and obligations. Service, responsibility, duty, and honor almost sound like anachronistic ideas from the past. But they are the mainstays of the common good and the sense of community that are necessary for society to work. The values, ideals, and principles under which schools operate are the core that gives people a sense of identity and purpose.


Communities are value-based; politics are power-based; and the private sector is profit-based. The public has become cynical about government, which is a dangerous trend, particularly as the younger generation hears repeatedly that government does not work and that it cannot be trusted. It does not work if special interests are served and the interests of the people are ignored.


The old adage -- wisdom is knowing what you don't know -- applies to board members. Wise ones know what they need to learn. School districts are complex places fiscally, educationally, organizationally and culturally. Board members need to understand the large and subtle issues of school districts before taking action. New members must take time to sort out what they know and don't know. Grasping technical and policy questions takes time and work. There is a significant difference between opinion and knowledge, and information and understanding. Knowledge and understanding are prerequisites for responsible decision-making.


Good public servants understand what is controllable and what is not. Otherwise, policies and planning can be compromised. Stewardship and accountability are the foundations of public officials and not necessarily at the forefront with privatization. The heart of stewardship is valuing what a school is and what it can mean to children. Board members must protect the soul of the school from the dark entrapments that can destroy schools and turn them into mere institutions, complete with standard operating procedures and no heart. To do that, communities must elect people with deep passion for children and the courage to stand on the point and advocate for them. There is no greater public service than to improve the condition of children. To do so, school board members must be committed to the ideals and values of public education.


This article appeared in the American School Boards Journal.  George A. Goens (gagoens@gmail.com is a former school superintendent and has written six books on leadership and education. His new book is The Fog of Reform: Getting Back to a Place Called School. He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.

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