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Doris E. Candelarie
Sanchez International Elementary School
Boulder Valley School District
Lafayette, Colorado
As turnaround principal of the urban, high-poverty Sanchez International Elementary School, Doris E. Candelarie has transformed the school’s culture and climate from a “victim environment” to an empowered learning environment during her seven-year leadership. With a goal to break the cycle of poverty through education, Candelarie hired purpose-driven, self-managed teachers and built them into leaders through training in collaboration, data analysis, and RTI. Candelarie uses videos, stories, music and pictures to motivate and inspire staff and introduces yearly themes, such as “Got Grit?” as metaphors for work, engagement, fun and challenges. Struggling learners receive academic, behavioral, emotional and family support, as well as ongoing positive reinforcement. Raising two million dollars through grants and 200-plus partnerships, Candelarie instituted wrap-around services in literacy, health, financial, emergency and migrant education programs through her Family Resource Center. A Latina mom advocacy group, English classes, General Education Diploma courses, and an Early Childhood preschool are among additional services. “I never give up,” says Candelarie, and results in the 350-student, prekindergarten through fifth-grade school reflect that. Academic successes include a 25 percent raise in third-grade reading proficiency and attainment of International Baccalaureate status for the school. “Doris set out to accomplish a vision of the future that few others can even imagine,” says Assistant Superintendent Sandra Ripplinger. “She is a transformational leader who deeply believes that all students deserve to be successful and that it is our moral imperative as educators to work tirelessly on their behalf.” Candelarie’s credentials include a B.A. from the University of Northern Colorado, an M.A. from Regis University, a Principal Licensure and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver.