MAESP participates in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Distinguished Principal┬« (NDP) program. The NDP program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and middle level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staff in their learning communities.  The program was based on three fundamental ideas:

Children’s attitudes towards learning and their perceptions of themselves as lifelong learners are established in the beginning years.

The scope and quality of children’s educational experiences are determined primarily by the school principal, who establishes, through the important work of teachers and the support of caring parents, the character of a school’s program.

The dedication and enthusiasm of the outstanding principals who guide children’s early education experiences should be acknowledged to both show appreciation for their work as well as to allow them to serve as models for others in the field.

Criteria established by NAESP require the individual to be a practicing principal with at least five years’ experience in the principalship, who plans to continue as a practicing principal. The principal must demonstrate evidence of outstanding contributions to the community and to the education profession. The principal must:

Be a member of NAESP at the time of  nomination and maintain membership through the conclusion of the NAESP Award Ceremony,

Have been a building principal (not assistant principal) for 5 years,

Be clearly committed to excellence,

Lead programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students; and

Have firm ties to parents and the community.

Each of the eleven MAESP Regional Networks nominates a MAESP member principal who meets the above-mentioned criteria as its Regional Distinguished Principal Honoree. From these initial honorees, one is selected as the Missouri National Distinguished Principal and represents Missouri and MAESP at the NAESP NDP Celebration held each October in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations to the 2023 Missouri Distinguished Principals!

Enjoli Avila

Chapel Hill Elementary
North Kansas City 74
Clay-Platte Region

Adam Bax

Wilder Elementary
Springfield R-XII
Springfield Region

Becky Drummond

Slater Alexander Elementary
Central Region

Kerri Edwards

William Yates Elementary
Blue Springs R-IV
Kansas City Region

Cathy Freeman

Hillsboro Primary
Hillsboro R-III
Jefferson County Region

Samantha Hamilton

Goodman Elementary
Neosho R-V
Southwest Region

Patrick Keenoy

Rogers Elementary
Mehlville R-IX
St. Louis Suburban Region

Emily Koenig

Perryville Elementary
Perry Co. 32
Southeast Region

Jennifer Krattli

Jonesburg Elementary
Montgomery Co. R-II
Northeast Region


Melissa Vernon

Freedom Elementary
Waynesville R-VI
South Central Region


Steve Waigand

Rock Port Elementary
Rock Port R-II
Northwest Region

Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals
3550 Amazonas Drive
Jefferson City, MO  65109

Phone: 573-638-2460
Fax:  573-556-6270

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