Rock Port R-II Elementary Principal Dr. Steve Waigand was named 2023 MAESP Principal of the Year.

The Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) participates in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Distinguished Principal® (NDP) program. The NDP program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and middle level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staff in their learning communities.

The program was based on three fundamental ideas:

• Children’s attitudes towards learning and their perceptions of themselves as lifelong learners are established in the beginning years.

• The scope and quality of children’s educational experiences are determined primarily by the school principal, who establishes, through the important work of teachers and the support of caring parents, the character of a school’s program.

• The dedication and en-thusiasm of the outstanding principals who guide children’s early education experiences should be acknowledged to both show appreciation for their work as well as to allow them to serve as models for others in the field.

Criteria established by NAESP require the individual to be a practicing principal with at least five years’ experience in the principalship, who plans to continue as a practicing principal. The principal must demonstrate evidence of outstanding contributions to the community and to the education profession.

The principal must:

• Be a member of NAESP at the time of  nomination and maintain membership through the conclusion of the NAESP award ceremony

• Have been a building principal (not assistant principal) for five years

• Be clearly committed to excellence

• Lead programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students

• Have firm ties to parents and the community

Each of the 11 MAESP Regional Networks nominates a MAESP member principal who meets the above-mentioned criteria as its Regional Dis-tinguished Principal Honoree. From these initial honorees, one is selected as the Missouri National Distinguished Principal and represents Missouri and MAESP at the NAESP NDP Celebration held each October in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Steve Waigand, the elementary principal at Rock Port R-II in Rock Port, Missouri, was nominated by the Northwest Region. The MAESP honored 11 elementary principals from across the state at the 2023 Leadership Conference Saturday through Tuesday, March 4-7, at Margaritaville Lake Resort at Osage, Missouri. At the Monday evening banquet, Dr. Waigand was awarded the top honor of 2023 Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals’ Principal of the Year. Upon returning back to school at Rock Port, Dr. Waigand’s students had a congratulatory sign hanging in the elementary hallway.

Dr. Waigand is married to Tabitha (Biermann) Waigand and they have four sons, Kipton, Beau, Nolan and Henry. The Waigand family lives in Rock Port where Dr. Waigand is in his seventh year as the elementary principal.