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Karen Winterstein
Sunset Hills Elementary School
Dysart Unified School District
Surprise, Arizona

Building and supporting staff leadership capacity and developing a student body that reflects the highest standards of ethics and compassion are among the significant con-tributions of Principal Karen Winterstein to Sunset Hills Elementary School.  With the 1,230-student, kindergarten through eighth-grade school named an A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation, and with Winterstein named an A+ Lead Judge and Principal Leadership Academy Mentor, both school and administrator stand out as models of exemplary practices in education.  Winsterstein strongly believes that nurturing teacher leaders results in positive risk-taking, and many of her staff achieve positions as data specialists, interventionists, and reading and instruc-tional coaches.  Among those mentored by Winterstein is Arizona’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, who credits the principal’s training in “respectful communication under difficult circumstances” as crucial to her success.  With community outreach as a priority, Winterstein reinforces a commitment to early childhood, high school readiness and parental involvement.  Kindergarten Jump Start, parent breakfast programs, a Parent University, and an 8th Grade Community Walk---where staff goes door to door to personally invite students to meet their teachers and participate in sports, clubs and associations---are all a part of this commitment.  A grateful parent of a Sunset Hill special needs child says of Winterstein, “The world is full of differences, and she’s allowed students to learn accep-tance and compassion and most importantly that everyone deserves a chance to learn.”  Winterstein holds a B.S. from the University of Southern California and an M.A. from Northern Arizona University.