Calcaterra earns recognition as 2020-2021 St. Louis Principal of the Year

Colleagues, family gather to surprise LHS principal with special announcement

Principal+Karen+Calcaterra+along+with+SASSP+board+member+Gary+Jansen+after+being+surprised+with+the+2020-2021+Principal+of+the+Year+award.

Cece Beckmann

Principal Karen Calcaterra along with SASSP board member Gary Jansen after being surprised with the 2020-2021 Principal of the Year award.

Juli Mejia, Asst. Editor

Kevin Vera

Principal Karen Calcaterra has been Lafayette’s leader for four years. This year has probably proved to be one of the most challenging of all those years, but her efforts during this time have not gone unnoticed.

On April 15, the St. Louis Area Association of Secondary School Principals (SASSP) surprised Calcaterra and named her St. Louis Area Principal of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.

The SASSP chooses its winners based on many factors, including the following criteria, “[the principal] contributions to the school and the community, demonstrates leadership in improving student achievement, demonstrates leadership to the principalship and [SASSP], ensures the school climate is positive and reflects high staff and student morale, is respected by students, colleagues, parents and the community at large and serves as a formal or informal mentor to new principals,” according to the SASSP website.

SASSP past president and Crestview Middle School Principal Gary Jansen attended the event to award Calcaterra. 

 “[Calcaterra] stands out because of the performance of the students that are at Lafayette. They perform in many great ways. We feel her leadership has an impact directly upon that. The things that she’s doing in the community as well, both inside the school and building relationships with students, and the community as a whole,” Jansen said. “Another thing that was noticed was that other people have talked to us about Karen as an administrator. Whether that’s in Rockwood or in other districts that Karen has been helpful to. Our organization believes in administrators supporting other administrators and she’s a definite cog in the wheel that runs our St. Louis administration.”

Assistant Principal Kirti Mehrotra, who is also on the board as Assistant Principal Representative, is confident in Calcaterra’s abilities as principal.

 “Dr. Calcaterra has done a tremendous job bringing the entire staff together. She’s always about kids, she puts kids first and her administering team puts the kid first. She’s an amazing leader and she has done a fabulous job with this pandemic because she’s been able to bring us all together,” Mehrotra said. 

Calcaterra said she is very proud of the recognition, but is mostly thankful for her peers who have accompanied her along the way.

 “Our administrative team here is so amazing, our teachers have done such a great job and really our kids in this school have responded far above my expectations this year,” Calcaterra said. 

In the past year, being in a leadership position has been difficult for many administrators who want to accommodate the needs as many students as possible while they are learning during the pandemic. Calcaterra had to make many decisions to help overcome obstacles for students as well of staff.

“One of the things that I have been committed to this year schooling under the age of COVID is that I wanted school to feel as much like school as it could. School is a safe and fun place for kids, and while this is really challenging, I wanted everyone who walks through the door to still feel that excitement about being here,” Calcaterra said. 

In 2017, she was awarded with the Assistant Principal of the Year award and was surprised for that award as well. As the first female principal in Lafayette’s history, Calcaterra serves as a role model and leader for students and members of the community. 

 “Everyone is working so much harder and it’s her motivation and her dedication that keeps us all going. She totally deserves this award as she is one of the best administrators I have ever worked for,” Mehrotra said.