I recently had the pleasure to spend a morning at the Bronx Little School, an elementary school in my hometown of the Bronx, where I was a superintendent for many years.

It was clear that the principal, Beverly Urquiza, a graduate of the NYC Leadership Academy, has had a tremendous impact on the children and the adults in her community in her two short years as principal. She is leading a school that is academically focused and supportive of students and their families. She greeted every student we passed by name and engaged them in conversation. She could tell me where each student was excelling and where they needed extra support. In every classroom I visited, I saw and heard a real joy and enthusiasm for learning. Vibrant art work and student writing hung on the walls, and children and teachers were engaged in lively discussions. Principal Urquiza spoke highly of her team and the work they are doing together to make sure each student has the best opportunities possible. She is the first to acknowledge that while many students have made incremental improvement to basic levels of proficiency, most students are still below grade level. Their work is cut out for them but the groundwork has been set and they are optimistic about the gains their students will make.

Being a principal takes courage, commitment, and a clear understanding of the systems and structures that need to be developed to support student learning and tackle inequitable practices head-on.

October is National Principals Month. While at the NYC Leadership Academy, every day is devoted to school leaders and supporting them in doing this hard work, I am thrilled to use this month to share the stories of principals doing exceptional work, who put their students first and commit tireless energy and resources to supporting their staff in making every day about doing their best for students.

But don’t just take my word for it that principals matter. Listen to their students. Please take a few minutes to watch our short film, Power of Leaders, which features a dozen students talking about the impact their principals have had on their lives and takes us into their schools to see their work in action.

Do you have a principal you want to thank or recognize, or issues you want to raise connected to educational leadership? Join our conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (tag us on Twitter — @NYCLeadership – so we can share your stories broadly). #ThankAPrincipal #NationalPrincipalsMonth