Prairie Ridge administrator selected as Colorado’s 2020 Principal of the Year

The Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP) are proud to announce Jill Lliteras as the 2020 Colorado Principal of the Year for Elementary Schools.

“CASE is so excited to honor the accomplishments and highlight the successes of our Distinguished Principal because we all understand the profound impact a school principal has on their school,” said CASE Executive Director Bret Miles. “Jill has a proven track record of school improvement and has an established reputation as a leader among leaders, impacting her colleagues within her district and throughout CASE. We are so excited to hold up Jill as a shining example of school leadership.”

Lliteras has served as a principal for more than ten years and is currently with Prairie Ridge Elementary School in the St. Vrain Valley School District. Her leadership has been instrumental in improving standards, not just at Prairie Ridge, but at every stop she has made along the way. Those improvements are made possible through her approach to leading her team.

“I know and believe that as a leader, the easiest and most effective tool is to listen more than talk,” Lliteras said. “Part of being a great listener is being visible within the school and community. In order to ‘Lead from the Heart’, you first must get to know, at a personal level, your stakeholders.”

Lliteras spends more than half of her time out of her office interacting with staff and students. This allows her to keep a pulse on the needs of the climate and culture of Prairie Ridge. She also makes a point to be inside the classrooms, supporting instruction and learning the needs of her students.

Knowing that it takes more than just school administrators to meet those student needs, Lliteras has enlisted the help of churches, foundations and businesses in the communities she has been a part of to ensure academic success for the young learners. Within the Prairie Ridge community, she has established monthly Community Nights, sporting themes such as Robotics, LEGOs, Astronomy, Valentine’s Dance and more. This allows for shared learning experiences that work to develop partnerships with students’ parents.

Lliteras also aims to adapt the type of learning her students receive to what is relevant today.

“In today’s ever-changing world, it is critical schools have a clear vision and mission aligned with the 21 st Century learner and the structures in place promoting intellectual standards for all students, ensuring learners interests and passions are highlighted,” said Lliteras. “Leaders and teachers need to be clear on WHAT they need to teach, HOW they need to instruct, HOW they will assess, and WHAT they will do if the learner doesn’t get it, or already has it.”

This approach is one of the many reasons St. Vrain Valley School District’s Deputy Superintendent Jackie Kapushion nominated Lliteras for this honor.

“Jill is extremely collaborative in her approach with her staff and her colleagues. She plans and leads innovative and engaging PreK-12 professional development for the schools in her feeder to promote educational alignment for students,” Kapushion said. “Moreover, she is able to think critically about issues in the field and present several solutions to any problem.”

Lliteras 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).

“This award is not about me; it illustrates the incredible work and dedication of principals and teachers across Colorado,” Lliteras said. “I have been so lucky to serve three schools over the last thirteen years: Fulton, Fletcher and Prairie Ridge. Each of the educators I have worked with has taught me something and helped me grow as a leader. It is such a privilege to represent our state as this year’s NDP and I’m honored to be part of such an outstanding group of education administrators.”