Principal Profile: Erin Carlson
Tucked back into the south side of Castle Rock, surrounded by homes and apartments is not only a Castle Rock staple, but also one of Douglas County’s oldest schools, South Ridge Elementary. The school is currently operating in its 45th year.
As a designated International Baccalaureate School, students explore, investigate and make connections observing the world around them beyond what is just in their own backyards.
Though the school has deep historical roots, in just her second year at the elementary school, Principal Erin Carlson is making sure the school continues to move in the same direction her predecessors started many years ago.
Get to Know Erin
1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the students. Every day is a new day that can hold such possibilities. Getting the daily high-fives and hugs are just the cherry on top!
2. Who inspires you?
Dedicated teachers who give so much time and efforts for students.
3. What was your first job?
Cashier at Piggly Wiggly....Shop the Pig!
4. If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
Travel Enthusiast. I'd love to get paid to travel and see the world.
5. What's an interest or hobby you have that not a lot of people might not know about you?
Besides loving the Green Bay Packers, I find myself hiking most every weekend somewhere in the mountains. When I was young, I would enter Freckle Contests and I won the 1988 Wisconsin State Fair Freckle Championship. Yes, it is a real thing.
6. What's your favorite item on the school lunch menu?
7. Do you have any pets?
2 Boxers (Harley & Lambeau). Yes, Lambeau is named after Lambeau Field. =)
8. What was your first car?
1989 Ford Taurus. I bought it from my parents on my 16th birthday.
9.What advice would you give to a college graduate who is entering the field of teaching?
You will not regret it! Be there for the students educationally and emotionally. Take risks. You will learn more from the students than you will ever be able to teach them.
10. If you could be any superhero, who would you choose to be?
Principals aren't superheros? Then She-Ra, she is the most powerful woman in the universe
“Erin has made South a positive thing in the community. She has done a number of things that are different. There is paint on the walls, the library is brand new and kids love it. She has reached out to the community members and has really made a name for us here. The culture is better,” says Assistant Principal, Stephanie Brink.
Shortly after Erin took the reins at South she began reaching out to her community; looking to build partnerships and relationships with realtors, local businesses and service groups.
“There are quite a few organizations who have taken us under their wings and have anonymously helped out our families and provided help to those who have a greater need than the school can provide. It is so amazing and creates such great sense of community. It leaves me speechless, happy and so proud,” says Carlson.
Longtime South Ridge Elementary teacher, Marne Katsanis agrees the work Erin has done has made big and positive impacts throughout the school, “there is a strong sense of community. People feeling a part of something bigger than just their own classroom or room they work in.”
Carlson was born and raised in the Midwest and double majored in both Special Education and Elementary Education. Due to her double degree, Erin was required to have two separate student teaching experiences. After completing her first in Minnesota, Erin decided it was time for a dramatic change and was given an opportunity to student teach in San Antonio, Texas. It was during her time in Texas, Carlson earned her experience in working in very diverse environments and situations.
“I love how backgrounds are so different for people, but kids are still kids, regardless of where you are located. It doesn’t matter where they are coming from, they all have the same potential and it is just our job to see it and then help them see it. They can become whoever they are going to become and give them all chances and let them see they are all equal, regardless of where or how they grow up,” says Carlson.
Her passion for kids and giving them a chance at every level doesn’t just end there. Erin has gone out of her way to provide families safe spaces for her students. South Ridge doesn’t offer a before or after school program, but after seeing the need a new program was started this year and is seeing huge results.
“This year we started a new program and encouraged teachers to think of a passion of theirs and we now have over 30 staff members who provide clubs and activities before and after school for our families – me included – I did Lego robotics club this year – it was a huge hit we had more than 30 kids. It’s amazing to see everyone jump on board, our certified and classified staff have started clubs. Everybody has such a vested interest and wants to be part of the South Ridge family. We are all truly here for our kids and families,” says Carlson.
Giving kids and their families a place to be safe, successful and happy.