St. Vrain Valley School District Principal Named Colorado's 2019 Elementary School Principal of the Year

Northridge Elementary School principal Lorynda Sampson was named the 2019 Elementary School Principal of the Year for Colorado by the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals.

Sampson was chosen through a selective and competitive nomination process because of her hard work bringing Northridge Elementary from a Priority Improvement school several years on the clock, to a Performance status school, thanks to an ability to foster reflection and collaboration in her building.

“I’m shocked and honored,” Sampson said. “I’m so proud of my teachers, students and the entire Northridge community for coming together to challenge and improve our standards for the sake of our learners.”

Sampson established several collaboration efforts at Northridge to help teachers make instructional shifts needed to move their student achievement levels up. For example, she implemented video analysis tools in classrooms to help teachers celebrate their successes and analyze what was and wasn’t working as a team.

“As a principal who knows the power of shared leadership and collaboration, I needed to figure out how to shift the ownership of coaching from the principal to our staff while still increasing student growth and achievement, collective efficacy and collaboration through feedback and reflection,” she said.

“I made the practice of video observation and reflection public, safe and a celebration. By recording the staff celebration before winter break and having teachers celebrate by annotating the video together, the staff began to see that video was a safe way to celebrate what’s working, not just what isn’t.”

Sampson has also led efforts to improve parent and community member involvement at Northridge through a number of different measures, including offering monthly parent workshops in English and Spanish covering everything from healthy eating to technology and stress management, inviting parents to attend Classroom Conferences five times a year and establishing a Parent Leadership Team to provide input in school improvement goals and student data.

“Lorynda has been a force to be reckoned with at Northridge Elementary,” said CASE Executive Director, Lisa Escárcega. “Her focus and drive not only improved their CDE status; it’s also resulted in more STEM classes, a mentorship program and more effective teacher coaching.”

Northridge parents, staff and teachers also recognize Sampson’s hard work.

“The magic of working at Northridge Elementary is knowing that every person’s learning and progress is supported in a positive, caring environment. Mrs. Sampson is a positive life force for students, and our students know she will do whatever needs to be done to help them in learning and in life,” wrote seven Northridge teachers in a letter of support for Sampson.

“She will work tirelessly to solve problems, always with a smile and wink. It is an honor to work with our administrator and learning leader, Lorynda Sampson.”

Sampson will be recognized at a school event, as well as this month at the 2019 CASE Awards Reception. She will also be honored at the National Association of Elementary School Principals this July in Spokane, WA.