Warrick County educator selected as the state’s top principal

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A local principal was named Principal of the Year this past weekend receiving recognition for her work to better both her school and community.

Sharon Elementary School Principal  Ashlee Bruggenschmidt was named the 2019 State Elementary Principal of the Year by the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP) Sunday. 

Warrick County School Corp. Superintendent Brad Schneider said the award is well deserved and is proof of the hard work Bruggenschmidt has put in, as well as the community doing their part to support a healthy learning environment within the school. 

“It’s a huge honor for the school corporation to have one of our principals recognized; it’s a great recognition of the work of Ms. Bruggenschmidt and the community coming together to focus on the kids,” Schneider said.

“The learning environment she created is amazing for the kids, and the parents are very supportive of the school. So it’s a nice recognition of her leadership skills and what they accomplish at Sharon and strive for every day,” he said.

IASP, which serves over 2,900 building-level administrators, selected the Newburgh school principal among the best in the state. Bruggenschmidt was elected by her peers for her district, District 11, which is made of several southwestern Indiana counties including Vanderburgh, Dubois and Daviess counties, among others.

Bruggenschmidt was recognized as the state’s top principal of the year out of the 12 district winners during IASP’s annual Fall Professional Conference in Indianapolis.

IASP President Elizabeth Walters and Executive Director Todd Bess presented the award to Bruggenschmidt, who was recognized for helping build Sharon Elementary into one of the best elementary schools in southwest Indiana.

During her time as principal, Bruggenschmidt helped shape Sharon Elementary into an Exemplary or A grade-level school nine of the past 10 years. She’s also developed several community-based organizations in Newburgh and helped fund 10 scholarships for graduating high school students through the Play for Kate foundation she founded.

Bruggenschmidt’s 11-year-old daughter Kate was killed in an ATV accident in July 2015. She wasn’t wearing a helmet. At the time, Indiana had no laws governing safety equipment and ATVs. 

On July 1, 2017,  Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed HEA 1200 — Kate’s softball number was 12 — into law. It dictates that all ATV riders younger than 18 must wear a helmet, both on public and private land. Bruggenschmidt’s advocacy was a big part of that.

Safety Sam is a robot about the size of an average 9-year-old who rides an ATV. It is controlled by Indiana Conservation Officers but developed by Play for Kate and teaches kids about ATV safety. It talks and interacts with kids at events. 

Bruggenschmidt will represent Indiana at the National Association of Elementary School Principals National Distinguished Principal Recognition Program in the fall of 2020 vying for national Principal of the Year title. 

— Courier & Press

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