2024 Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year Kari Krueger 

The Association of Wisconsin School Administrators has named Kari Krueger as its 2024 Elementary School Principal of the Year.

From left: Jim Lynch, Executive Director, AWSA, Mike Roemer, Principal, Reagan High School & AWSA Board President, Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA, Kari Krueger, Principal, Highlands Elementary School, Nan Bunnow, Assistant Superintendent, Appleton Area School District Greg Hartjes, Superintendent, Appleton Area School District 

Krueger is the principal of Highlands Elementary School and Odyssey Magnet School in the Appleton Area School District, where she has served for four years after spending two years as assistant principal. During her time in leadership at Highlands Elementary and Odyssey Magnet School, she has dedicated herself to creating a strong culture of diversity and inclusivity.

During her tenure, Krueger cultivated a robust school culture centered on student achievement and support, while working actively to bridge the gap between home and school. As a result of her efforts, Highlands experienced an increase in its growth score on the Wisconsin School Report Card.

To positively influence school culture and student achievement, Krueger committed to include student, parent, and community voices in critical conversations and decisions. As part of this initiative, she enhanced Highland’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support team by adding parent representatives. Parent representatives identified areas for improvement in regard to rewarding positive student behavior, directly impacting the school’s culture.

In addition, Krueger made special efforts to meet with students, taking their input and using their recommendations to clarify, refine, and improve the school’s behavioral expectations.

Dr. Nan Bunnow, Assistant Superintendent of the Appleton Area School District (AASD), says that Krueger is “a talented, dedicated educator who focuses on continuous school improvement. She is an instructional leader who values diversity and works tirelessly to provide equitable, high-quality learning opportunities for all students.” She continues, “It’s fitting that Kari be recognized as the 2024 Wisconsin Elementary School Principal of the Year for her unwavering dedication, steadfast support, and the profound impact she has had on the Highlands/Odyssey school communities and the AASD.”

“From all of us at AWSA, I would like to extend my congratulations to Kari Krueger for being named the 2024 Elementary Principal of the Year,” said Jim Lynch, executive director of AWSA. “She truly leads by example, embodying the principles she strives to instill in her students, staff members, and community. Through her actions, she demonstrates a commitment to continual learning, growth, and fostering a positive culture of improvement.”
Krueger holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She also holds an educational leadership certification, also from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Earlier in her career, she was a special education teacher.

2024 Wisconsin Secondary Principal of the Year Santiago Navarro

The Association of Wisconsin School Administrators has named Santiago Navarro as its 2024 Secondary School Principal of the Year. 

From left: Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA
Santiago Navarro, Principal, Bruce Guadalupe Middle School
Mike Roemer, Principal, Reagan High School & AWSA Board President

Navarro is the principal of Bruce-Guadalupe Community School, a prekindergarten through 8th grade charter school operated by the United Community Center in Milwaukee. Navarro has served as middle school principal since 2009, and has worked in some capacity at the same school since starting as a 5th grade teacher in 1996. 

As a principal, Navarro emphasizes the important role schools can play in their communities. Primarily serving students from low-income families, BGCS is able to provide wraparound support services for families thanks to its partnership with the United Community Center. 

“I am incredibly proud of Mr. Navarro and the impact he has had on our middle school and community here at United Community Center. This award is a testament to his unwavering passion and dedication to his staff and students and I’m excited to be able to celebrate him today,” said Laura Gutierrez, CEO of United Community Center. 

Navarro specifically aims to cultivate a second "home" atmosphere, providing students with the resources and support essential for their future success. During his time at BGCS, the school has seen the number of alumni enrolling in college after graduation increase from 3 percent to 60 percent. In addition, 70 percent of students now attend private high schools after completing 8th grade at BGCS, and many receive scholarship support from the United Community Center. 

Navarro strives to use data-driven decision-making and carefully cultivated relationships to drive leadership and instruction in the school. He believes combining data analysis with strong relationships is key to helping students succeed. 

“On behalf of AWSA, I am thrilled to congratulate Santiago Navarro on being selected as the 2024 Secondary Principal of the Year,” said Jim Lynch, executive director of AWSA. “His unwavering commitment to the school’s community and dedication to student success are truly remarkable. Additionally, his long-standing investment in the school is palpable, as he consistently goes above and beyond to ensure every student receives the support they need to thrive.” 

Navarro holds a master’s degree in education from Marquette University and a New Leaders for New Schools certification from National Louis University. He also received a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.

Supported by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, the Principal of the Year award recognizes school leaders who have helped drive student learning, foster instructional collaboration, and create safe and positive school environments. Recipients are selected based on their dedication to professional excellence, leadership skills and service to their communities.