Mountain Ridge administrator named state's Assistant Principal of the Year


The Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals (CASSP) named Douglas County School District's Sara Curto the 2022 Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year for middle level schools.

Curto, an assistant principal at Mountain Ridge Middle School, was selected by a committee of her peers through a process, facilitated in partnership by CASE and CASSP, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

In announcing the recognition, the Douglas County School District said Curto's leadership is one marked by innovation, collaboration and community-building.

In 2019, Curto led the school's Building Leadership Team through a deep-dive into historic school-wide data, in order to pinpoint areas to bolster equity and improve supports for the school community. The project identified focal points: professional learning communities, executive functioning, differentiation and equitable grading/assessment. Focusing on those four areas has since led to systemic, incremental changes for the school, from an updated set of mission, vision and goals to reimagined processes for continuous learning, student support and leadership development, the release said.

“Our updated mission grounds our whole school in the concept of equity, so that all students have access to learning and can have their specific needs met. Working with students through a pandemic has forced our building to really delve into what the specific needs are for each student,” Curto said.

The revitalized mission and vision have become pillars of Mountain Ridge Middle School's building culture. Opportunities for students to develop as leaders have grown exponentially with Sara's commitment to creating a pipeline for student leadership between her feeder middle school and its high school. Under Sara's leadership, students at Mountain Ridge have the space to bring the student body together through activities and campaigns they take the lead on, such as student-run community service and school spirit weeks.

“The camaraderie and spirit at Mountain Ridge Middle School are a direct reflection of Sara's leadership,” said CASE Executive Director Bret Miles. “Her focus on data-backed community-building has created an environment where everyone in the building, from students to staff, are empowered to invest not only in their own learning and leadership, but in their school community as a whole, too.”

As the 2022 Middle Level Secondary Principal of the Year, Sara will be recognized at the annual CASE Awards Reception this spring.


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