AWSP Principals Focus on Relationships, Leadership and Partnerships

Dr. Randy L. Russell, Superintendent, Freeman School District
Jan 13, 2021
three sailboats on the water

As a superintendent, and former assistant principal and principal, I admire and respect our AWSP principals and assistant principals. Why? Principals and assistant principals are committed to the students they serve! Principals and assistant principals are advocates for their staff members! Principals and assistant principals are tireless workers committed to making things better for their school community! These are just a few of the many reasons why our principals and assistant principals are so admired and respected.

Principals and assistant principals know it all starts with The 3 Ships – RelationShips, LeaderShip and PartnerShips. Principals and assistant principals are great at building and developing relationships with their students, staff, parents, and colleagues. Principals and assistant principals also understand every meaningful and worthwhile relationship is built on two major factors: trust and communication. Relationships aren’t always easy to navigate, but we can learn from our relationship challenges, insights, and experiences.

As John Maxwell states, “Everything rises and falls with leadership.” Principals and assistant principals understand leadership is not about the position – it is about influence and impact. In a school building, the leadership rises and falls with the principal and assistant principals. Principals have the opportunity to influence and positively impact the climate and the culture. Each principal carries their own weather system and their weather system influences the building’s weather system.

Principals and assistant principals understand the importance of partnerships. Partnerships are built from a combination of relationships and leadership, brought together through connections that are mutually beneficial. There are many partnerships in education and AWSP is a great partner. Principals and assistant principals understand the benefits of a solid partnership creates a synergy where the combined effort is greater than the individual effort.

AWSP has been a leading voice in education for decades and represents principals, assistant principals, and interns. AWSP advocates for their members, offers engaging professional development, supports members with coaching and mentoring, promotes diversity and equity, creates strong student leaders, provides unique learning centers, and communicates so members are informed, engaged, and connected. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and professional group of principals and assistant principals in Washington.

In order to help and support our principals and assistant principals - regardless of which role you are in – I wrote The 3 Ships: Relationships, Leadership and Partnerships. Whether leading a family, team, staff, or building The 3 Ships was written to strengthen relationships, grow and develop leadership skills, and identify and promote partnerships. In this book, I use stories, examples, and practical experiences to develop the skills and abilities necessary to successfully navigate one’s relationships, leadership, and partnerships. 

The 3 Ships: Relationships, Leadership, and Partnerships provides guidance for growth, development, and happiness as it relates to these three important concepts. This book will also help each leader grow and develop skills related to relationships, leadership and partnerships, which will result in being happier as a person and as a leader – at home, at work, and in life. The 3 Ships also offers hope and direction to bring anyone’s ship into the harbor, regardless of the crises and challenges they and their crew face along their journey. 

Dr. Randy L. Russell is the Superintendent of the Freeman School District in Rockford, WA and is the President of RLR Leadership Consulting. Email him or follow him on Twitter at @RandyLRussell24. For more information visit  and to become a launch team member, sign up at

  • leadership
  • Relationships
  • partnership

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