Karen Harris, a 42-year educator and 14-year principal who currently heads Fort Garrison Elementary School in Stevenson, is Baltimore County's Principal of the Year.
Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance named Harris the 2013-2014 Baltimore County Principal of the Year during a ceremony held May 6, 2013 at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson.
"Karen Harris is an exemplary principal who created a unified school vision and culture at Fort Garrison and extends herself as an ambassador to her community and to other administrators as a principal mentor for the past decade," Dr. Dance said. "Karen is a deserving recipient of our first Principal of the Year Award."
Harris is the school system's first ever Principal of the Year. She's a lifelong educator who formerly served as principal at Pot Spring Elementary School and Perry Hall Elementary School. She was a finalist for the BCPS Teacher of the Year award in 1995.
"This award is such an honor, Harris said. "It really is a team effort to develop a positive culture and vision for the school, so the fact that my entire staff came together to nominate me was the biggest honor. Winning was the icing on the cake!"
In addition to Harris, seven other finalists were honored during the ceremony. They are Yvonne Barhight of Hawthorne Elementary School, Anne Gold of Vincent Farm Elementary School, Bonnie Hess of Chadwick Elementary School, Bonnie Lambert of Loch Raven High School, George Roberts of Perry Hall High School, Yasmine Stokes of Edmondson Heights Elementary School and Beth Strauss of New Town Elementary School.
Principal of the Year candidates are nominated by their staff, community and colleagues and then narrowed to a group of finalists by a selection committee comprised of representatives from the Board of Education, the Curriculum and Instruction Office, the Parent Teacher Association, CASE and the superintendent's cabinet. The committee reviews and scores nominations based on Maryland Instructional Leadership Framework Standards. Nominees with the top scores become finalists and complete an additional application that is reviewed and scored by the selection committee. The principal with the highest score is named Principal of the Year.
As the Principal of the Year, Harris will receive a $1,000 gift for school enhancement and technology from the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools and the opportunity to participate in a national professional development conference of her choice.