Gazette: Wildflower Elementary School leader recognized as Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year
By O'Dell Isaac, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Major, assistant principal at Wildflower Elementary School, was prepared to spend a career in elementary classrooms until a mentor convinced her that she could impact a greater number of students if she worked in an administrative role.
“I never wanted to be an administrator, but I’m glad I chose this path,” she said. “Still, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything truly impressive.”
The Colorado Association of School Executives would beg to differ.
Major, who has worked in Harrison School District 2 for 15 years, was recently named Outstanding Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year for being an exceptional “fixer, helper and leader,” according to CASE officials.
“I just feel lucky that I get to do this job,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine that someone would want to give me an award for it.”
Major caught the teaching bug during her freshman year at Indiana University, where she originally majored in fashion merchandising. After interacting with students during an education class, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else but teaching,” she said.
After she graduated, Major returned to her Cincinnati hometown, where she taught third grade for two years. In 2008, she moved to Colorado to be closer to her sister and began teaching in the Harrison school district.
A few years later, Major’s mentor and friend Barbara Swaby suggested that she consider pivoting to administration. Major was initially skeptical.
“(Swaby) told me, ‘You got into this profession to make a difference. Think of the bigger, broader impact you could make if you tried administration,’” she said.
Major earned a master’s degree at Regis University in 2013 and began working as an assistant principal at Stratton Meadows Elementary School in 2014.
“Being an administrator has been a blessing,” she said. “It’s been a blessing to work alongside teachers and colleagues, but still be in a building around kids all day. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Major’s hands-on approach to administration has produced immediate results everywhere she’s gone, which is why the district has moved her to a new school every two years since 2014.
“Anything I do — that is of any importance at all — is service related. Whether it’s serving students or serving families, or serving my teachers, that’s what it’s all about. So if the district needs me to go to a different school every two years, then that’s what I will do.”
For Major, no job is too big or too small, as long as it benefits students, she said.
“My principal and I both have that mentality,” she said. “If a classroom needs coverage, if a duty needs to covered — recess, lunch, whatever — we’ll do it.”
Major’s primary duty, as she sees it, is to support teachers in any way possible. When teachers feel supported, students reap the benefits, she said.
“We have to keep our feet in teachers’ shoes when we make our decisions. Every decision we make affects teachers, so it also affects student success.”
Wildflower principal Cassie Gannett said she is gratified that the Colorado Association of School Executives is recognizing Major’s hard work.
“I think sometimes things happen behind the scenes that people don’t even know that she’s doing,” Gannett said. “So this is just kind of a way to say, ‘Hey, you’re seen, you’re appreciated for all that you do,’ and so I’m excited for her.”
Wendy Birhanzel, HSD2’s Superintendent, agreed with Gannett's sentiments.
“Lauren has been doing great work here for a long time,” said Birhanzel, who was named Colorado Superintendent of the Year in 2023. “This recognition is well deserved.”
Major and other statewide award winners will be honored at the annual CASE awards ceremony on April 26.