The way Bob Herring sees it, a child’s classroom doesn’t end at the schoolhouse door. In fact, for Herring, principal of Nativity Elementary School in Cincinnati, education is nothing if not global. It’s that philosophy that set him apart, earning him the title of 2006 Distinguished Principal of the Year from the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the U.S. Department of Education.
Such recognition isn’t new to Herring. He was also named Distinguished Principal by the National Catholic Educational Association last year, and his school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Education. But it’s fitting, considering he was fired three years ago in a philosophical dispute with the parish priest that triggered a massive response from parents, who successfully lobbied for his reinstatement.
A 1973 and 1977 graduate, Herring became principal at Nativity in 1984 and has since given the school’s 378 students multiple opportunities for cultural and educational experiences abroad or with foreign visitors at home.
“As they go out into the world, they’ve got to be players in the global economy,” Herring says. “We’re just an elementary school, but we’re laying a foundation of experience, and the ability to integrate events and the opportunity to interact with kids from abroad gives them the opportunity to view life differently.”
Some of the school’s programs include student exchanges with schools in Finland and Germany, partnerships with schools around the world, the International School- to-School Experience—this year with Costa Rica—and an International Projects Week program that organizes a weeklong gathering every three years with schools from six or more countries. Nativity hosted the event last year.
“We’ve tried offering here something you can’t get anyplace else, that combination of solid academics, arts, technology and a global experience,” he says.