Dr. Janice K. JacksonChief Education Officer, Chicago Public Schools

I’ve been a school principal, so I know what a tough job it is. Principals’ lives revolve around what is happening in their buildings. Long days at school become long evenings and weekends, and they are always juggling the needs of a dozen or more students, parents and staff.

It is a challenging job in the best of times, and these are not the best of times for CPS. Our District’s financial crisis places a heavy burden on our principals. They lose sleep over the thought of having to raise class sizes or lay off staff, or do anything at all that might jeopardize the education of their students. This is because good principals come to think of their students as their own children, and they would do anything to help them succeed.

From increased graduation rate to record-high ACT scores, the roads of our District’s success lead back to principals. They are the heart and soul of our school communities. The leadership they provide inspires teachers to do their best work, and the relationships they build with families empower parents to play an active role in their children’s education.

Most importantly, our principals see their students as having limitless potential. They see them not as a collection of challenges, but as the next generation of leaders, innovators, artists and entrepreneurs to help lead our city and our world. For this and for so many other things, we should all offer them our sincere gratitude, not just on Principal Appreciation Day, but every day of the year.