The principal of Science Leadership Academy will skip school Monday and Tuesday. So will the principal of the Workshop School and the leader of Science Leadership Academy at Beeber.

The three Philadelphia School District leaders have a solid excuse for being absent. They will be meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other top principals from around the country in Washington.

Chris Lehmann, Simon Hauger, and Chris Johnson have been chosen for a new program, "Principals at ED," that "brings groups of highly innovative and successful principals from across the country to the Education Department to learn more about federal programs and to share experiences from their jobs as school leaders."

Science Leadership Academy, run by Lehmann, and the Workshop School, run by Hauger, have received national attention and prizes for their innovation. Both are project-based schools.

Science Leadership Academy at Beeber, a second campus of the successful model, was opened by Lehmann and Johnson in West Philadelphia in 2013; Johnson is the principal.

Hauger aims to take the core message of the Workshop School to Duncan, he said: Academics are crucial, but school should really be about problem solving, communicating, persistence, self-awareness, and project management.

"Often, these things are developed in spite of school, instead of because of school," Hauger said.

Lehmann, a leader in education technology circles, is excited to swap ideas with his peers.

"There are a number of people who are defining innovation in similar ways that we do - how does teaching and learning get better?" he said.

Johnson said he plans to do a lot of listening.

"I'm going with pen and paper, laptop, cellphone, tape recorder," he said. "I'm taking as many notes as possible."