Until July 2003, the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals functioned as two separate entities, the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary School Principals ("PAESP") and the Pennsylvania Association of Secondary School Principals ("PASSP"). The two separate boards of directors each had representatives on a joint management committee under which the staff operated.
In the 1960s the Pennsylvania Elementary Principals (PEP) became the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary School Principals (PAESP) with Larry Mong as the first President. In 1972, Dr. B. Anton Hess became the first Executive Secretary of both PAESP and PASSP and the offices were located in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. In the early 1980s the Executive Board expanded to include regional representatives in each of the three regions – East, Central and West – as well as various other at-large representatives.
PAESP was affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and has supplied four Presidents for the National Association as follows:
PASSP became an autonomous organization in 1935 with John H. Tyson of Upper Darby being elected as its first President. It was a professional organization of secondary school principals and other levels of school administrators as well. It was “a branch” of the National Association of Secondary School Principals and worked cooperatively with PEP and then PAESP.
PASSP was administered by an Executive Board composed of the elected and appointed officers and thirteen members: three from Eastern Pennsylvania, three from Central Pennsylvania, four from Western Pennsylvania, one Assistant Principal elected at large, one Middle Level Administrator at large and one NASSP Coordinator.
PASSP was an affiliate of the prestigious National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). PASSP and the PA Principals Association have supplied eight Presidents for the National Association as follows:
In the fall of 2000, a committee of individuals representing both the PAESP and the PASSP met to study the feasibility of joining the PAESP and the PASSP into one association to be known as PA Principals Association. The primary reasons for the jointure were increased benefits to the members of both organizations and increased efficiency in the operation of both organizations. After prolonged study by the committee, the proposal to join the associations was put to a vote of the membership of both organizations in December 2002.
In September 2015, the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP) changed its name to the Pennsylvania Principals Association.
With nearly 4,000 members, the Pennsylvania Principals Association is one of the largest state principals’ association in the nation and is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), located in Reston, Va.
The PA Principals Association, NAESP and NASSP are the only education organizations that advocate for elementary, middle level and secondary school principals, assistant principals and various other educational leaders throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation.
The PA Principals Association offers three categories of membership, including:
Active - All principals, assistant principals, supervisors, directors and coordinators under Act 93, and who are directly involved in the education of children, can be Active members.
Aspiring Educational Leader - You may join our association, at a reduced rate, if you have aspirations of becoming a working principal or assistant principal. The program is open to anyone who is currently in an administrative/supervisory certification program (three-year limit). After three years, provided you are not an on-line principal, assistant principal or supervisor, you may continue your membership - still at a reduced rate.
Retired - You may continue your association membership as a retired member at a reduced rate or you may choose a lifetime membership.
The PA Principals Association is now governed by an executive committee comprised of elected and appointed officers – president (alternates from secondary to elementary evert two years), president-elect or immediate past president, treasurer, NAESP state representative and NASSP coordinator. There is a Board of Directors consisting of these officers, an appointed diversity at-large representative, an appointed assistant principal at-large representative and 18 elected regional representatives (one elementary and one secondary for each of the 9 regions - East, Central and West - across the Commonwealth).
The association maintains a state headquarters office located in Summerdale, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Harrisburg) as well as a western regional branch office located in the Pittsburgh area.
Dr. Eric Eshbach is the Assistant Executive Director. He replaced Dr. Joseph H. Clapper following his retirement. Dr. Clapper served as the Assistant Executive Director from 2013-2020.
Dr. Joseph H. Clapper replaced Joseph P. Acri after his retirement. Mr. Acri served as the Assistant Executive Director from 1997-2013. Mr. Acri was preceded by Dr. William R. Logan – 1991-1997
Joseph J. Foriska retired as Western Region Office Manager in June 2020. He served in this position from 2008-2020. He was preceded by Vincent M. Carr – 1998-2008
It is the goal of PA Principals Association to: