Karissa E. Lang

Crestline Elementary School
Hartselle City Schools
Hartselle, Alabama

Over the course of her six-year tenure as principal of Crestline Elementary School, Karissa Lang has effectively transformed the school’s professional culture while improving instruction and expanding learning opportunities for all students. When she first took leadership of this pre-K through fourth grade school, Lang faced challenges with declining enrollment, low proficiency levels, numerous teacher transfer requests, and a culture that left parents and community members feeling unwelcome and uninformed. Taking a facilitative leadership role, Lang leveraged teacher insights to chart a path for cultural and academic improvement guided by the mantra “Be Where Your Feet Are.” With 30 percent of Crestline students receiving special education services, improving the school’s approach to targeted instruction was a top priority. By emphasizing teacher voice, data-informed practices, and robust professional development offerings, Crestline continues to work toward closing the literacy gap and has seen a dramatic decrease in disciplinary issues and a marked increase in community and parent involvement. Lang has also implemented a STEM cart program and revamped the school’s usage of its outdoor classroom, developing a hands-on, immersive environmental science program that goes beyond the core curriculum to cultivate an appreciation for nature and sustainable agriculture. Lang holds an Ed.S. in Leadership and a Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also holds a Master’s in Leadership from Jacksonville State University.