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As part of National Principals Month, CASE is pleased to highlight a few of our outstanding principal members. As studies show, principal leadership is second only to strong instruction when it comes to impacting student achievement, so please join us this month in recognizing the hard work and dedication of principal-leaders from across the state. To learn more about National Principals Month, click here. As you're celebrating this month, remember to #ThankAPrincipal!


#ThankAPrincipal - Karen Shaw


Karen Shaw was named the 2016 Colorado Distinguished Principal of the Year for Elementary Schools by the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals last spring. She serves the community of Columbia Elementary School in Colorado Springs District 11 as their principal. Thank you, Karen, for all that you do!  Join us in celebrating this incredible principal leader! Read the press release,  here. #ThankAPrincipal


How long have you served in your current position? In education?
I am in my seventh year as principal at Columbia Elementary. This is my 26th year in education.


What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
The advice I would give someone new to a leadership position is to listen twice as much as you talk. And really listen! Know that it is OK to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you.” This gives you time to truly think of the best solution to a problem rather than the first one that comes to your head.


What are the most important decisions you make as a school or district leader?
The most important decisions I make as a school leader are those related to hiring staff. School staff are the people who directly work with the students and make the biggest impact on their learning. Hiring smart for every position is key to the success of the students and the school as a whole.


What is your favorite destination in Colorado?
My favorite Colorado destination is any golf course that my husband and I play. I especially love the mountain courses like the River Course at Keystone. They remind me of my home state of Montana.


What is your proudest moment or accomplishment as a school leader?
Because I moved with my husband a lot due to his career in the military, it was always a goal of mine to take a group of kids from kindergarten to fifth grade as a principal. After being at Columbia Elementary five years, we were named a 2013 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. This award was based on growth of student achievement over time.


  Click here to download and share this image to celebrate Karen and her accomplishments!


The Colorado Association of School Executives ( is the preeminent professional association for public school administrators in Colorado. The organization’s mission is to empower Colorado education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking to deliver on the promise of public education.

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