Hartselle principal named 2023 Alabama National Distinguished Principal  

Special to the Enquirer  

Karissa Lang, principal of Hartselle’s Crestline Elementary School has been named Alabama’s 2023 NAESP National Distinguished Principal by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA).  

Karissa Lang

Lang has served in various roles throughout her 21-year career in education. She has been a teacher as well as an assistant principal before becoming a school principal in 2013. She has served as the principal of Crestline Elementary School since 2017. Lange earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Auburn University in 2001; a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2004; a master’s degree in educational leadership from Jacksonville State University in 2009; and an education specialist degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015. 

In her role as principal of Crestline Elementary, Lang has built a culture of support and inclusion evidenced by increased morale, improved test scores, decrease in disciplinary issues and improved parent and community involvement. Lang works closely with the school’s PTO and is currently raising money for a SNAP playground so all students can be included in play. 

Lang said being chosen for the honor came as a complete surprise and she is humbled to represent Alabama and elementary school principals.  

“It’s an honor to represent Crestline, it’s an honor to represent Hartselle City, it’s an honor to represent the state because there are amazing, rockstar administrators across the state,” Lang said. “What a great way to spread the great news about what’s going (on.)”  

Another accomplishment of Lang’s is the creation of an environmental science program in which students attend weekly classes and are immersed in hands-on activities in an outdoor classroom. Students grow vegetables, compost, explore native plants and animal species, recycle, and learn to appreciate nature. Through her diligence, the school earned many grants to help fund the program as well as many accolades for the program’s success. 

“We are very proud of Mrs. Lang,” said Dr. Brian Clayton, superintendent of Hartselle City Schools. “She is an excellent representative of Hartselle City Schools and the principal profession. She is one of the most committed educators I know.” 

A panel of judges selected Lang from three finalists for Alabama’s National Distinguished Principal. She was presented with this honor during a schoolwide assembly at Crestline Elementary School this past Friday.  

“I am thrilled to congratulate Mrs. Karissa Lang on being named the 2023 Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal. Her dedication to student success, innovative leadership, and unwavering commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive school community have made her an exceptional leader at Crestline Elementary School,” said Dr. Vic Wilson, executive director of AAESA. “This prestigious recognition is a testament to her outstanding contributions to education. Mrs. Lang serves as an inspiration to us all.” 

Wilson helped present the award to Lang in a moment she called “full-circle.” Wilson was the superintendent of Hartselle City Schools when Lang began her career with the school system.  

The Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal program is presented by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA). Each year, the winner receives a trip to Washington, D.C., for the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Awards Ceremony which is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. 

Lang will be recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the annual Convention of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) this summer in Mobile. The CLAS Convention is the largest gathering of school leaders in the state of Alabama. She will also be recognized at the AAESA Fall Instructional Leadership Conference in November. 

About the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Award: Each year, NDPs represent Pre-K through grade 8 public schools from across the country as well as principals in U.S. private schools and those from the United States Departments of Defense Office of Educational Activity and the United States Department of State Office of Overseas Schools. Public school elementary and middle-level principals are nominated by peers in their state, and final selections are made by committees appointed by each of NAESP’s state affiliate offices. Honorees from private schools and overseas schools are selected by special committees. 

 

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