2023 Assistant Principal of the Year-

Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson- District 1

Assistant Principal of the Year

Currently, Peterson is serving as the Associate Principal at Chesterton High School after transitioning from her role as an Assistant Principal from 2018-2022. She graduated from Stetson University in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies prior to obtaining her Social Studies and Physical Education and Health teaching licensures through Valparaiso University in 1999. In 2013, she received her administrator’s license from Ball State University. During her time in the classroom, she also dedicated herself to being the head coach of the varsity girls’ basketball team for ten years and the varsity girls’ cross-country team for two years for the Trojans. The cornerstone of Peterson’s leadership practice is to lead by example by intentionally modeling best practices, especially during professional development meetings. As an advocate for educator wellness, she demonstrates her value of teacher input and wants educators to feel empowered to find success through fostering their individual strengths. With this in mind, she has implemented teacher-driven and teacher-choice professional development structures as a means to best connect individualized support and information to her teachers. Because of actions such as these, in 2022, Peterson was selected to participate in a roundtable discussion regarding mental health for Principal Leadership Magazine. Peterson’s impact has been felt throughout her community at large through her involvement with CHS’s Internship Program Development. This organization has increased from 5 to 183 students since 2020 and has joined forces with over 200 community partnerships. Peterson’s ability to nurture and promote the advancement of students, teachers, and the community is a testament to her outstanding leadership.


2023 Elementary School Principal of the Year-

Kathaleen Smith

Kathaleen Smith- District 9

Elementary Principal of the Year

Kathleen Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in 2000. She went on to teach for one year with Greensburg Community Schools. In 2001 she became a kindergarten teacher for Northwood Elementary School, also working in the reading recovery room. She became certified in reading recovery by Purdue University in 2001. In 2006 she became the school’s literacy coach. In 2010, she was honored to be named Franklin Community Schools Teacher of the Year and went on to represent Franklin Schools in the state contest, being named a semifinalist for the IDOE Teacher of the Year. In 2011 she earned her principal’s licensure and became the principal of Northwood Elementary School the same year. She held this position until 2016 and became the principal of Union Elementary School where she has since served. Her primary goal as an educator is to create a successful and personalized learning environment for all students. She thrives on being busy and stresses the importance of always demonstrating a strong work ethic. She believes it is absolutely essential to model the same behaviors she asks of her team. This includes her love for children, positivity, passion, and drive.

2023 Middle School Principal of the Year-

 Michelle Dyer

 Michelle Dyer- District 12

Middle School Principal of the Year

Michelle Dyer- District 12Michelle Dyer first received an Associate of General Studies degree from Vincennes University in 1987. She continued her education at Indiana University Southeast receiving a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1989. Her first teaching job in 1989 was at Jacob Elementary in Louisville, KY, she then became an educational technology teacher with Jefferson County Public Schools Lyndon Education Center from 1994-1997. In 1994 she earned a master’s degree in administration for Indiana University Southeast. From 1997-1999 she was the assistant principal at East Washington Elementary School. Starting in 1999, she oversaw Pleasant Ridge Elementary School for 15 years. Within five years’ time, the school improved from a “C” to an “A” school. She praises her amazing staff and the structure of collaboration as the reason for this incredible feat. In 2014 the superintendent asked that she bring her skills to River Valley Middle School. Only ever working in elementary schools, she reluctantly obliged and has been there ever since loving her students completely. After spending over three decades in education, she still looks to her father as teaching her the most valuable lesson, “No matter what job you are doing, you can learn something new every day.” She tries to live her life by these words and has made it her personal and professional philosophy.

2023 High School Principal of the Year-

Angela Blessing

Angela Blessing- District 5

High School Principal of the Year

After graduating from Anderson University in 1998 with a bachelor’s in elementary education, Angela Blessing accepted her first teaching position with Anderson Community Schools teaching 4th and 5th grade until 2001. She moved to Carmel Clay Schools in 2001 to continue her elementary teaching career, while simultaneously attending Butler University and eventually earning her administrator’s license by 2004. She served Carmel Clay Community as the Vice Principal of Towne Meadow Elementary School from 2003-2006. She later found an opportunity to become the building principal of Bon Air Middle School in Kokomo where she served from 2014-2016. Known for her passion and ability to empower other educators, her talents were required elsewhere as she was appointed as the very first female principal of Kokomo High School in 2015. With an expansive background in all levels of education K-12, she has found her home at Kokomo High School and truly feels she has the best job in the world. During her tenure as principal, Kokomo High School’s graduation rate has never dropped below 92%. Her passion and support are contagious, making school a place students want to be. Under her leadership, Kokomo High School has increased Advanced Placement courses; International Baccalaureate Diploma Program courses; and dual credit courses, while creating a Fine Arts Graduation Pathway and started a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo while also expanding a partnership with Indiana University Kokomo. These opportunities allotted to students have shifted the focus to individual student success. “Legacy matters,” is stated to be the main theme that fuels Kokomo High School, Angela Blessing is proof of this, as her work and dedication to the advancement of the students at Kokomo High School will always be her legacy.

For more information about the selection process or to nominate someone for this prestigious award, please click here.

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