National Distinguished Principals Program




The 2023 National Distinguished Principal® Program Nominations Are Open

The National Distinguished Principals Program was established in 1984 as an annual event to honor exemplary elementary and middle school principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staff in their learning communities. 

One principal is chosen annually from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Principals representing private K-8 schools, Department of Defense Dependents' Schools, and the U.S. Department of State Overseas Schools are also recognized.

Florida public school principals are nominated by their peers, and the Florida Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals make the final selection for Florida's NDP. The Florida NDP Application deadline is April 7, 2023 by 5:00 p.m. Please submit the Application Packet and Nomination Form to, awards liaison

Criteria for Selection:

The following criteria reflect elements of existing requirements in current state principal recognition programs. Nominees must meet all criteria for selection as a National Distinguished Principal.

The selected principal:

  • is required to be a member of NAESP for at least three consecutive years at the time of nomination, and maintain membership through the conclusion of the NAESP Award Ceremony;
  • has been an active principal for at least five years (be in their 5th year, not necessarily have completed the fifth year), and plans to remain a practicing principal;
  • demonstrates evidence of outstanding contributions to the community and to the education profession;
  • shows a strong commitment to principalship through active membership in professional associations including the Florida Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals (FAEMSP), the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP);
  • is respected by students, colleagues, parents, and the community at large;
  • shows strong educational leadership by setting high expectations for school staff and students;
  • maintains an orderly, purposeful learning environment.

Evidence of outstanding contributions to the well-being of the educational community including:

  • ways in which the principal's leadership has benefited curriculum, staff morale, community support, student interest, and the learning environment;
  • ways in which the principal provides creative leadership to inspire teachers and others to achieve and contribute to the school environment;
  • examples of service or achievements above and beyond what is expected in the usual school program;
  • ways others have acknowledged the principal as a force for positive change.
Nomination Information:

2023 NDP Application Packet

2023 NDP Nomination Application

2023 NDP Public School Selection Procedures

2023 NDP Letters of Reference

Application Packet and Nomination Form Due April 7, 2023, by 5:00 p.m.
Committee Review Selection Process April 10-28, 2021
Winner Announced Week of May 1, 2023
Florida Recognition at Discover '22 June 2023


2020 National Distinguished Principal

Heidi L. Keegan
Peace River Elementary
Charlotte County Schools