FULTON, Mo. – Fulton Middle School Principal Beth Houf was named National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals last week. The award comes after she was selected as the 2021-2022 Jim L. King Missouri Middle School Principal of the Year in February of this year.
The award is given each October, which is recognized as National Principals Month. It’s awarded to the principal who does the best to “advance their profession and provide top-quality learning opportunities for their students,” according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Houf was announced as the winner in a virtual ceremony and will receive the award at the NASSP’s annual conference. She has been the principal at Fulton Middle School since 2015 and is the first principal from Missouri to win the award. NASSP’s statement on Houf is below:
“In 2015, the school was not meeting student needs, the culture was toxic and trust was low. So Houf and her team began intensive training in professional learning communities to ensure that best practices, a viable curriculum, quality assessments, and educational interventions were all founded on a collaborative culture.”
“Houf saw early on the need to implement an advisory period for all students, focusing on empathy and empowerment. To rebuild the school’s culture and build trust between students, staff, and families, Houf and her team turned to training in restorative practices and invited local experts to train educators in trauma-informed teaching. This schoolwide commitment led to a 40 percent reduction in discipline referrals.”
“When the pandemic hit, Houf realized that old ways would not solve new challenges. The school immediately began check-ins with families via online surveys, encouraging families to ask for whatever support they needed. Ultimately, the school’s Return to Learn Plan, which was instrumental in planning and implementation for the 2020–21 school year, showed just how much Fulton’s learning community depends on collaborative leadership.”
In addition to her work as a principal, Houf is the author of the 2017 book “Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff.” She is also a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership Academy where she trains state education leaders.