Mary Kay Sommers
Shepardson Elementary School
Poudre School District
Fort Collins, Colorado

Mary Kay Sommers has led Shepardson Elementary for more than 20 years. Her career as a principal spans nearly three decades. High among her proudest days on the job was the one in the fall of 2009 when Shepardson Elementary won acclaim for its high scores on a new state accountability measure of academic growth. “This recognition serves to validate Shepardson’s vision and efforts to help each child as a unique learner make significant growth,” says Sommers. Her suburban pre-kindergarten through grade 5 school serves a student population of 330. Sommers has led the site to embrace significant changes that address students’ diverse needs and prepare them for success in a rapidly changing world. Those changes include regularly expanding technology resources to support student learning and becoming a school that has fully included students with special needs in regular classrooms since 1991. Shepardson Elementary is also currently involved in a schoolwide initiative to focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Beyond her principalship, Sommers has been a leader in professional education groups, including serving as president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Such positions have enabled her to advocate for education, principals, and schoolchildren at the state and national levels. She received a B.S. from Indiana State University, an M.S. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in Indiana.