AFSA Member Named 2023 National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year

One of the responsibilities of school building leaders is to reflect on what is working, what needs work and how to address it, by being resourceful with the budget and personnel in the building. Assistant principals can help with this process by collaborating with various members of the educational community, from the principal, staff and instructional teams to families.

Donna McGuire, a member of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), AFSA Local 1 in New York City, was named one of 27 2023 National Outstanding Assistant Principals by the the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).

These awards are given annually to an elementary or middle-level administrator who is clearly committed to excellence, has programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students, and has firm ties to parents and the community. Read about her best practices.

McGuire, an assistant principal at PS/IS 18 – The Park Terrace School in the New York City Public Schools, District 6, also was selected as the 2023 New York State Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) .

“Assistant principals are uniquely positioned to effect meaningful change in schools, making them a critical piece of a successful school community,” says NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE. “Working closely with principals, these school leaders support faculty and staff—who need it more now than ever amid a national mental health crisis—and build a compassionate school climate that prioritizes student academic and social-emotional success. Their passion for their school communities shines through in everything they do as leaders. Congratulations to this year’s class of assistant principals, whose achievements and impact have earned them the honor of 2023 National Outstanding Assistant Principal.”

Among her many accomplishments, McGuire serves as the chair of the Northern Manhattan's District 6 Leadership Team (DLT), serving 22,000 students across 40 schools. She also has also served as the chair and assistant chair of CSA, as well as the District 6 CSA Political Liaison for 12 years. At the national level, she serves as the facilitator for the NAESP Community of Practice for Assistant Principals. She was invited to facilitate the group after her work last year as a facilitator for the NAESP Center for Women in Leadership annual book study. McGuire was also a presenter at the 2021 SAANYS Annual Conference as well as the 2022 NAESP Conference, speaking on leading her school back from the COVID-19 pandemic. Commented former colleague Stephanie Rosman, "Ms. McGuire is a dedicated leader who actively participates within many different educational communities. She truly is a special person that I feel always goes above and beyond on city, state, and national levels. This is evident as she leads professional development, champions for funding and resources, and demonstrates tireless activism in the field of education."

Believing that everyone at PS/IS 18 – The Park School should have a voice, McGuire has promoted a culture that encourages a collaborative model with administration, staff and students, as well as partnerships with families—always striving to foster positive relationships. The students are encouraged to be kind and the school holds special days to show appreciation with activities designed to build character. Many guests also have been invited to the school as a way for the students to meet local role models abd members of the community, and create opportunities for them to interact. McGuire notes that, "While it is important that educational leaders provide a strong academic foundation for students, it is equally important to provide the resources and tools for children to grow up to be able to be resourceful, caring and responsible citizens. We need to remember that we are shaping our future community, and we need to teach and model for students how to collaborate and be thoughtful, and that everyone has something to offer society."

Nominated by peers in their states, recipients of this award are practicing assistant principals with at least two years’ experience in the role who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and have set high standards for students, colleagues, parents and the community. All National Outstanding Assistant Principals are members of NAESP at the time of their nomination.

Assistant Principal Patricia Gil commented, "Donna McGuire has a can-do attitude, serves with humility and grace, looks out for others and wants to help. Donna is a true role model for everyone around her. She has been a trailblazer and a mentor to other assistant principals and staff. She knows how to connect people in person and via technology, and is happy to help other educators do the same."

NYCDOE Community Superintendent Manuel Ramirez said, "Ms. McGuire is a passionate educator who thrives on being a change agent. Ms. McGuire always works with the highest level of professionalism, and has consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic, is a valued team player, an excellent communicator and listener, and is a creative problem solver."

McGuire received her bachelor of science degree from SUNY Oneonta, master of science in education from Fordham University, master of science in education from Baruch College, and has completed coursework in doctoral studies at Fordham University.

Each year, NAESP convenes the State Elementary Principals of the Year in Washington, D.C., to be honored as NAESP National Distinguished Principals®. Established in 1984, the program recognizes public and private school principals who make superior contributions to their schools and communities. The event provides attendees with the opportunity to network, share best practices and learn from their peers.