Regis Graduate Dr. Doris Candelarie Named Top Elementary Principal in Colorado

May 23, 2014

Dr. Doris Candelarie, principal of Sanchez International Elementary School located in Lafayette within the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), has been selected as the 2014 Colorado National Distinguished Principal of the Year. The National Distinguished Principal program honors elementary principals who have exhibited extraordinary leadership, commitment to their students and staff, service to the communities, and contributions to the overall profession. Candelarie exemplifies the values of this award and has been chosen by the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP), an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and a department of Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE).

“While the job of the principal is rewarding, it is also complex and challenging,” explains Candelarie. “In order to be successful, we have to have a dedicated and talented staff, committed parents and a supportive community. I am proud to receive this award because it recognizes not only my work as a leader, but also the work of my amazing staff, parents and community members.” Candelarie values stem from the servant leadership model with moral purpose at the heart of her decision making and actions.

Candelarie credits her success to her experience at Regis University where she received her Master of Arts in Education and was selected into the Alpha Sigma Nu honor society which recognizes those who distinguish themselves in scholarship, loyalty to the ideals of Jesuit education, and service to others.

“When I was asked what inspired me to do the work I am doing and where I developed my passion...the first thought that came to my mind was Regis,” said Candelerie.

BVSD Superintendent Bruce Messinger, in recognizing Candelarie’s exceptional school leadership, stated, ”Doris is an exceptional instructional leader who sets high expectations and provides abundant support for students, staff and parents. Doris is innovative and committed to the success of all children. Doris is a leader among leaders serving as a role model for the entire BVSD administrative team.”

BVSD Assistant Superintendent Sandy Ripplinger, Candelarie’s supervisor describes this year’s Principal of the Year as “a transformational leader who deeply believes that all students deserve to be successful and that it is our moral imperative as educators to work tirelessly on the behalf of students and their families.”

Arriving at Sanchez six years ago, Candelarie’s accomplishments are significant and transformative in nature. She led Sanchez International School from “Priority Improvement” status to “Performance” status by demonstrating high academic growth for sub-group populations and improving achievement in all subjects,but specifically in 3rd grade reading from 25% proficient to 50% proficient. She worked to change the culture and climate at the school to one that empowers learning.

The school became a 21st Century Learning Center over a 5-year period as it created a Family Resource Center and Extended Learning Program for students and families, both of which were cited as model programs for the state of Colorado. By also emphasizing the importance of outside partnerships, she was able to establish over 200 individuals and organizations as “Friends of Sanchez” to support the school’s efforts. Sanchez also attained International Baccalaureate status. Candelarie is committed to engaging the students as active learners and empowering parents as advocates for their children and school community.

The Sanchez community values and respects Candelarie’s leadership. A Sanchez parent describes her as, “one of those wonderful people you meet in life that you really admire. She is dedicated, aware, and a true professional. When I have talked with her or have heard her talking with students, I see such intelligence and caring.” Candelarie’s staff concurs with one teacher adding, “Doris sees possibilities. She envisions change. Her steadfast belief in the human spirit—in YOU, in ME—is palpable and inspires us to be the best version of ourselves.”