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Kim J. Tierney
Denver Elementary School
Denver Community School District
Denver, Iowa

During her six years as principal at Denver Elementary School, Principal Kim J. Tierney raised the bar on positive reinforcement, introduced a more global perspective into the curriculum, and developed a professional learning community which is now recognized as one of two model programs in the state. With a unique “positive office referral system,” Tierney turned around the traditional idea of being sent to the principal’s office by pulling students out of class to praise them, call their parents, and send them home with a photo keepsake. Tierney also instituted a student leadership team where interested fifth graders apply to join by writing an essay and going through a formal interview, with chosen members meeting weekly to discuss Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Colleagues say she also nurtures personal relationships and is often in the hallway giving kids high fives and hugs. With Tierney’s help and guidance, parents raised $120,000, which allowed the school to create a one-on-one iPad and Chromebook technology program for its 375 prekindergarten through fifth grade students. This has broken down classroom walls to expose students to ideas and resources from around the world. Tierney’s establishment of professional learning communities has created a culture of ongoing learning for both staff and students. Through collaboration and a deep focus on research, Denver’s professional learning communities became a model program recognized by the state. Tierney holds a B.A. Education from University of Northern Iowa and an M.A. in Education Administration from Iowa State University.