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Three Principal Ambassador Fellows Selected at Education Department

Two Maryland school leaders and one from Oregon will serve as Principal Ambassador Fellows at the Education Department for the 2016-17 school year.

The program, launched in 2013, has the backing of key school leadership groups, including the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Association of Elementary School Principals; the American Federation of School Administrators; and New Leaders, the New York City-based leadership training organization that prepares school leaders to work in high-poverty schools.

The groups say that the fellows, who are generally working principals, bring a school leader's perspective to Education Department staffers as they work on education policies. Those insights, they say, help strengthen federal education policies.

The new fellows are:

  • Jean-Paul Cadet, a principal at Oxon Hill High School in Prince George's County, Maryland, who will serve as a full-time resident fellow;

  • Monifa B. McKnight, the director of secondary school leadership at Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, who will work with the department on a part-time basis;  

  • And Dana Nerenberg, the principal of Sitton Elementary School in Portland, Ore., who will also work part-time.

(Education Week covered the Obama administration's efforts to engage school leaders in 2015. We also spoke with Jill Levine, the resident principal fellow in the 2014-15 school year, about what she learned while serving in the department and how she brought the principal's point of view to policy makers.)

"In order to ensure the success of education policy, it is essential the voice of our nation's school leaders be included at every step of the process," said Diann Woodard, president of the AFSA. "This is especially true this year, as states will have the unprecedented opportunity furnished by ESSA to support principals, by providing them with appropriate professional support to help them carry out their multitude of tasks successfully—ultimately benefiting their schools, teachers, and the students they serve."

The changes under the new federal education law have wide-reaching consequences for school leaders, and the principal's perspective remains extremely important, the groups say.

"Principal voice will be critical as the Department of Education supports states and districts in implementing ESSA's evidence-based, locally-tailored school improvement strategies," said New Leaders' chief executive officer Jean Desravines. "The fellows will provide insight into high-quality implementation of the law, including new and expanded opportunities to strengthen school leadership."

You can read more about the fellows' backgrounds and areas of interests on the DOE's website.

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