2020 National Distinguished Principal


It has long been recognized that principal leadership is key to student success. The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) established the National Distinguished Principal (NDP) program in 1984 to recognize and celebrate elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for the students, families and staffs in their learning communities.

“Today’s principals are tasked with attending to students’ social and emotional needs at greater levels, even while they give their all to drive academic success in their school communities,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE, NAESP’s executive director. “NAESP’s National Distinguished Principals program recognizes the outstanding leadership of highly successful principals and is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to outstanding school leaders.”

Scott D. Browning, principal of St. Paul Lutheran School in Fort Worth, Texas will represent The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) schools at the 2020 NDP program. “Mr. Browning was nominated and chosen by his peers through a nationwide search process and is one of three private school educators selected by NAESP,” says Dr. Rebecca Schmidt, director of School Ministry for the LCMS.

Browning leads St. Paul with a foundation of data-driven decision making and is credited for strengthening St. Paul’s instructional culture by providing professional development opportunities to equip staff to work with a variety of student needs. Counseling, ENRICH and Excel programs in reading, math, and academic support are designed to meet the individualized needs of students in grades K-8. A St. Paul parent shares, “… I have been impressed by his (Browning) commitment to an excellent academic environment in a Christian setting.” Browning deeply values parent engagement at St. Paul and emphasizes its importance by intentionally involving parents/guardians in the life of the school with activities that strengthen the relationships of teachers, students and their families. “The most important thing I do every day is interact with the faculty, staff and students,” states Browning.

Mr. Browning’s work during his 23 years of service includes teaching at St. Michael Lutheran, Fort Myers, Fla. and Christ Lutheran, Little Rock, Ark. in addition to serving as Christ Lutheran’s director of development and marketing. He served as principal at Immanuel Lutheran, Memphis, Tenn. and is currently serving as principal at St. Paul Lutheran, Fort Worth, Texas.

Browning holds a B.S. in education from Concordia University, Nebraska and an M.A. in educational administration from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Ark.

The 2020 class of NDPs will be honored during a two-day event in Washington, D.C. that will culminate with an awards banquet on October 23.