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2021 Excellence in Newsletters, Single Newsletter finalist

The Savvy Principal

About the Project

The Savvy Principal, a weekly newsletter for school leaders, made its debut at the most chaotic moment in education in modern times.

On May 18, 2020, Education Week sent its first edition of the newsletter to an audience of principals, assistant principals, aspiring principals, and others who care about K-12 leadership. Written by Lesli A. Maxwell in a conversational, empathetic voice, The Savvy Principal was a hit with the audience immediately.

Jonathan Stewart, a principal in San Jose, Calif., sent this note: “From my heart, thank you. I felt the weight of my school community on my shoulders as we kept our charter high school open into March, and even though I’m fortunate to work in a collaborative and innovative charter organization, the principal’s seat can be a lonely one. Your newsletter provides me helpful information, perspective, and company.”

Fifty editions later, The Savvy Principal is going strong. The Sunday morning newsletter is a weekly conversation with 125,000 readers who work in one of the most important, demanding, and isolated jobs in K-12 education—especially during the pandemic.

Our goal with this newsletter—which features a mix of original reporting and interviews, a brief rundown of EdWeek’s best coverage, data visualizations, career advice, and aggregated content from other sources—is to get school leaders off to a strong start for the week ahead. In each edition, we endeavor to inform, provoke, inspire, and delight this audience. The crisp design emphasizes the “big story” of the week at the top, and functions as a clear guide to the audience—giving them major takeaways, calls to action, and the option to go deeper through links. What follows is a series of short sections with more news, perspectives, and rich visuals. We end with “a little something to get you through the week.” Punctuated with emojis and humor, the newsletter is friendly as well as informative.

A core team of EdWeek staff began planning a newsletter for principals in the fall of 2019, using a product-focused process where we developed a strong content strategy, audience strategy, and revenue strategy. Education Week already had a robust portfolio of newsletters, but none specifically for school leaders and none written by a single author who could build and maintain connection with an audience. In fact, no such newsletter existed for principals—all that was available for this audience in the market were long, aggregated lists of headlines.

We have created a product packed with rich and relevant information. It’s a lively read and respectful of this busy and overworked audience of leaders. Our team meets monthly to review data, results for A/B testing, and to interrogate how to make the newsletter better. We believe we are succeeding.

Education Week respectfully requests that the ONA judges consider The Savvy Principal for its excellence in newsletters, single newsletter award.