When Gardner Elementary School Principal Pam Tate entered the gymnasium on Thursday morning, she wasn’t expecting to be greeted by cheers and the flash of cameras.
“You guys surprised me,” Tate told a gymnasium full of students, staff and district administrators.
On Dec. 8, Tate learned she had been named the Kansas Distinguished Principal of the Year during an assembly at the elementary school.
Jeff White, principal at Trojan Elementary School in Osawatomie, presented a plaque and flowers to Tate.
“Each year, we recognize one principal in the state of Kansas,” White said. “And guess who won for 2012?… It’s a huge honor.”
Established in 1984, the award honors exemplary elementary and middle school principals annually. Tate will now compete with principals from 49 other states for the National Distinguished Principal of the Year. The national winner will be announced at a banquet in Washington, D.C. next year.
Tate is in her seventh year as principal at Gardner Elementary. She also served for four years as the assistant principal at Wheatridge Middle School.
“Mrs. Tate’s leadership skills have been instrumental in providing the framework and direction that has allowed Gardner Elementary School to flourish academically,” USD 231 Superintendent Bill Gilhaus said in a press release. “Mrs. Tate is truly an extraordinary principal whose influence, effort and passion are reflected in both student achievement and staff cohesiveness.”
Tate said the award is a reflection of the hard work of students, teachers and district administrators.
“I am humbled,” she told the crowd. “I wouldn’t be getting this without all of you – especially the teachers.”
She also had kind words for the elementary students in attendance as well.
“And then you students – you work, work, work, and you play, play, play,” she said. “And then you learn, learn, learn. I love working and playing here, and I love seeing you guys learn.”