As part of the 48th Annual CASE Convention, CASE will be celebrating a few of its outstanding 2016-17 members, including our National and Departmental Award Winners. We hope you'll join us in celebrating them!


2017 CAESP Distinguished Service Award
~ Kristin Stolte ~

  Kristin Stolte served as the president of the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP), one of CASE's seven departments, for the 2016-2017 year. She is also currently serving  the community of Linton Elementary in the Poudre School District as their principal. Thank you, Kristin, for all that you do for Colorado's students!  Join us in celebrating this outstanding principal leader!

How long have you served in your current position, and how long have you worked
in education?
I have been an educator for 26 years and have taught in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado. I have been in my current position for 9 years.


What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
It is ok to “pause”. My first year, I felt a tremendous responsibility to “have the right answers or know the best action to take” at the drop of a hat. Requests, questions, and demands come at a school leader all day. Our response often sets precedence or has a domino effect on many others. I have learned it is ok to pause, say you need to a little time before answering, and step away to reflect on my critical question: What is best for students in this situation?


What are the most important decisions you make as a school or district leader?
Hiring. Every child deserves the very best teacher I can find. I feel a great responsibility to my community and make it my top priority to invest time in the process. I concentrate on looking for teachers who value relationships with students and families, have an intense drive and commitment to their personal growth and the growth of their students, someone who is a life-long learner and receptive to feedback, and someone who will help us grow as a team. These are qualities I can’t teach them...they must be a part of who they are. I also ask myself, “Would I want my own child in their class?”


What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Whether your first year, or a new position, leaders must first focus on building relationships. I believe the time invested up front is critical to on-going success. My advice would be to sit down individually with staff and get to know them on a professional and personal level. Learn every student’s name and engage them in conversation whenever possible. Intentionally interact with every family. This may take some creative planning of opportunities. You wouldn’t skip this step in your classroom. I believe this is equally critical in your new role.


How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
I believe the ONLY way creative thinking happens is when the environment is safe to take risks. To make this safe, I not only encourage new ideas and approaches, I also ask staff what they need from me. Our focus is always on what each student needs to be successful, so rarely is a creative idea just a “fad”. It is typically a well-thought out idea based on what are seeing in the classroom. If a new idea doesn’t have the intended outcome, I shift the focus on the learning that comes from reflection. I think we need to remember that often what keeps educators engaged and excited is the professional creativity, individuality, and autonomy that can be given to them in their classrooms.

This award will be named by the CAESP Board of Directors in in spring 2018. To find out more about how to get involved with this department contact 


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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