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Patriot principal wins 2020 Rookie of the Year Award

Thursday, May 14, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Scott Anderson
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May 14, 2020



Melissa Gibson, CASE Director of Communications and Strategic Partners





Patriot principal wins 2020 Rookie of the Year Award

DENVER – The Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP) are proud to announce Michelle Canon as the 2020 Colorado Rookie of the Year for Elementary Schools.

“The first word that came to my mind when I found out was gratitude,” said Canon. “I sort of had a flashback to all of the people that supported and encouraged me to become an administrator and principal. The support from my family and extended family really allowed this to happen.”

Canon is the principal at Patriot Elementary School in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8, where her philosophy since she began has been one of effective leadership through personal integrity. For her, this has often been guided by reflection, a distinctive set of values and a commitment to the community she serves. Patriot Elementary’s vision has since become one created collaboratively with the help of parents, staff, and students.

“The school’s action plan was articulated though the parent handbook, staff handbook, and in every training and event hosted in the school setting,” Canon said. “Data has continually been reviewed to ensure the vision of the school is appropriately embedded in all roles in the school setting.”

Integrity on the school level has also been a focal point, as decisions are frequently based off their compatibility with school district goals. Canon often uses data systems and other sources of information developed by her teams to identify unique strengths and needs of students, gaps between current outcomes and goals, and areas for needed improvement. Patriot Elementary’s leadership team continually reviews these systems, as well as the progress made towards the school’s vision and mission based on these results.

What has been truly eye-opening for Canon, however, has been adjusting to the new educational structure that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon schools.

“It certainly reaffirmed just how much I need good people around me. I think educators are energized by our interactions with students – the people side to our jobs is so vital,” Canon said. “One thing I feel like this has taught me is really being ahead of where your teachers and students are. I need to be able to provide answers for my people and communicate with staff and parents effectively. It has also taught me, perhaps more than anything else, just how amazing and vital the staff around me is to the success of this school.”

Canon’s actions have clearly borne out her feelings on the importance of her staff. Since joining Patriot, she has implemented numerous efforts to ensure professional growth for her team, including establishing the Marigold Mentor program, providing Responsive Classroom and Boys Town trainings, created opportunities for staff to participate in the Teacher Learning Institute, and more.

Canon was selected for this honor by her peers through a rigorous and competitive process facilitated by CAESP, a department of CASE and affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).


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.