Chai’s principal was awarded the SD National Distinguished Principal Award

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – KXLG spoke with the principal of Legacy Elementary School in Tea, SD, who was recently honored with the 2023 South Dakota National Distinguished Principal Award.

Castlewood native Dr. Samantha Walder has been the principal of one of the state’s fastest growing schools for the past five years as Principal at Legacy Elementary. He has been studying education for 15 years.

The National Distinguished Principal Program honors outstanding elementary and middle school principals who ensure that America’s children acquire a strong foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. The program is administered by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and is open to principals nationwide, in both public and private schools and overseas.

Walder spoke to KXLG News about how he felt about being nominated for the award.

“It’s an honor to be nominated, as well as to be involved with other phenomenal individuals who serve students, especially when we’re all trying to do the exact same thing and move students forward,” Walder said.

He also praised his team in the Tea Area School District. She said her educational experience at Castlewood was the main reason she went into the field, singling out two particularly influential teachers — Kim Boswell and Kay Zimiga.

“I immediately think of some of the amazing teachers I had, Mrs. Boswell, Mrs. Zimiga were two incredibly influential teachers who pushed me to do my best every day. Now that’s what I’m giving back and trying to do by supporting my teachers so they can support their students,” Walder said.

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KXLG says Boswell is still teaching at Castlewood and Zimiga is retired.

Walder holds a BA in History and Political Science and a MA in Education and Instruction from South Dakota State University. He received his PhD from the University of South Dakota.

Walder is also the president of the South Dakota Elementary Principals Association.

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