Decatur City School's Shannon McCaskey Honored as Alabama's 2024 NAESP National Distinguished Principal

Mrs. Shannon W. McCaskey, principal of Frances Nungester Elementary School, has been named Alabama's 2024 National Distinguished Principal by AAESA, in recognition of her transformative leadership and dedication. Her innovative programs have significantly elevated the educational experience and community involvement at the school.
Feb 16, 2024 by Alyssa Godfrey, CLAS Director of Communications

Decatur, Ala., February 16, 2024 – Mrs. Shannon McCaskey, principal of Frances Nungester Elementary School in the Decatur City School System has been named Alabama’s 2024 NAESP National Distinguished Principal by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA). This recognition program is sponsored by Renaissance.

Shannon McCaskey 2024 Alabama NAESP NDPMrs. McCaskey’s career in education began as an extended day site leader at Chestnut Grove Elementary, followed by her impactful role as a 2nd/3rd Grade Teacher, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2002-2003. She holds degrees and administrative certification from the University of North Alabama.

Under her guidance, Frances Nungester Elementary, home to 406 students, has soared to new heights, earning the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence title and maintaining a solid 'B' on Alabama's state report card consistently since 2014—a testament to her high standards for both teachers and students.

Mrs. McCaskey is known for fostering a school culture that prioritizes safety, collaboration, and academic excellence. Her initiatives, such as the Dragon Academy and Family Friday programs, have not only supported students academically but also nurtured a sense of community and belonging within the school.

Her community engagement is equally impressive, with her serving as a board member and commissioner on various boards, volunteering at the Harold Coomer Soup Kitchen, and contributing to Children’s Church at Lifeline Church.

“We are thrilled to congratulate Mrs. Shannon McCaskey for being selected as this year’s Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal. Her remarkable achievements exemplify the highest standards of educational leadership,” said Dr. Vic Wilson, executive director of AAESA and CLAS. “Her innovative programs and dedication to students’ holistic development have not only earned her this honor but also the heartfelt gratitude of the community she serves. Her work is a beacon of what committed leadership can accomplish in our schools.”

Mrs. McCaskey's personal journey resonates deeply with her mission, driving her to implement programs like a clothes closet and the Dragon Academy. Her philosophy is that each child’s needs extend beyond academics, and her innovative programs reflect this belief.

A panel of judges selected McCaskey from three finalists for Alabama’s NAESP National Distinguished Principal. She was presented with this honor during a schoolwide assembly at Frances Nungester Elementary School on February 16, 2024.

The Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal program is presented annually by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA). Each year, the recipient is awarded a trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Awards Ceremony which is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).

McCaskey will be recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the annual convention of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) on June 11, 2024, in Mobile, Ala. The CLAS Convention is the largest gathering of school leaders in the state of Alabama. Mrs. McCaskey will also be recognized at the AAESA Fall Instructional Leadership Conference in November 2024.

For more information, please contact CLAS Director of Communications & Technology Alyssa Godfrey at or (800) 239-3616.

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About the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Award: Each year, NDPs represent Pre-K through grade 8 public schools from across the country as well as principals in U.S. private schools and those from the United States Departments of Defense Office of Educational Activity and the United States Department of State Office of Overseas Schools. Public school elementary and middle-level principals are nominated by peers in their state, and final selections are made by committees appointed by each of NAESP’s state affiliate offices. Honorees from private schools and overseas schools are selected by special committees.

About Renaissance: Renaissance is the sponsor of the Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal program. They are a global leader in assessment, reading, math, and early literacy solutions for pre-k-12 schools and districts.

About AAESA and CLAS: The Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators is a state chapter of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and an affiliate association of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS).  CLAS is an umbrella association that serves thirteen affiliates comprised of Alabama’s public school administrators.  CLAS is dedicated to providing the framework to connect dedicated school administrators and other successful leaders with a network for professional growth and support.  For more information, visit