Riverdale principal goes to Washington

Kristin Golden named National Distinguished Principal

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/24/18

Kristin Golden, principal at Riverdale Elementary in Thornton, knew she was meant to be an educator - even when she was in the first grade. With that goal always in her mind, Golden has gone on to …

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Riverdale principal goes to Washington

Kristin Golden named National Distinguished Principal

Posted

Kristin Golden, principal at Riverdale Elementary in Thornton, knew she was meant to be an educator - even when she was in the first grade.

With that goal always in her mind, Golden has gone on to enjoy a 28-year career teaching, mentoring and being an administrator in public schools.

She was recently included among 62 outstanding elementary and middle school principals from across the nation and abroad who have been named as 2018 National Distinguished Principals by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Golden spent the weekend in Washington receiving her award and networking with other NDPs.

“Teaching came natural to me,” said Golden, who has been the principal at Riverdale for five years, and an administrator for nine. “I believe strongly in servant leadership. I feel like every day is a gift and it’s up to you as to how you’re going to spend it.”

Golden’s positive attitude, and her high standards for herself, her students and staff, have helped turn the school, which was failing five years ago, around to become one that received the Governor’s distinguished improvement award.

“At the end of my first year, I partnered with Colorado Department of Education and got some good training in data driven instruction, observation feedback cycles and school culture,” said Golden. “Our school performance framework was at 37 percent. Since then, our score has grown each year, and this year was at 75.2 percent.”

Golden stressed that the efforts were not hers alone, and declared in her acceptance speech that the award was not hers alone either.

“I really attribute this to all of our hard work. This award is not mine alone, it truly belongs to Riverdale Elementary, my staff and our students,” said Golden.

Karen Cocozzella, executive director of elementary school, oversees approximately 16 elementary schools in the district, and said Golden possesses a gift when it comes to helping teachers interact effectively with their students.

“Kristin has the skills that are needed in someone who knows how to lead,” said Cocozzella. “She has an understanding of both the affective, emotional and academic needs of students.”

Data guru is also a term used to describe Golden.

“She knows all the kids and all their data,” said Cocozzella. “She has the ability to walk into a classroom, make one small recommendation to the teacher based on observations, and using pieces of data that have an immediate effect in the classroom.”

“The humility and grace that she brings in her everyday interactions is why she is the Colorado National Principal of the Year,” said Cocozzella.

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