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Walder honored as 2023 SDAESP Principal of the Year

Article Courtesy of KXLG



The Castlewood native Dr. Samantha Walder has been Principal of one of the fastest-growing schools in the state for the past five years at Principal at Legacy Elementary. She has been in education for 15 years.


The National Distinguished Principal program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level principals who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. The program is run by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and is open to principals from across the nation, in both public and private schools and overseas.


Walder spoke to KXLG News about how she felt about getting nominated for the award.


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


She also gave credit to her team with the Tea Area School District. She said her educational experience in Castlewood was the main reason she went into the field, singling out two especially influential teachers – Kim Boswell and Kay Zimiga.


“I immediately think of a couple of amazing teachers that I had, Mrs. Boswell, Mrs. Zimiga were two incredibly influential teachers that pushed me to do the best every single day. Now that’s what I turn around and try to do with support with my teachers, so they can support their students,” said Walder. KXLG says Boswell still teaches in Castlewood, and Zimiga is retired.


Walder holds undergraduate history and political science degrees with a master’s in curriculum and instruction from South Dakota State University. She earned her doctorate from the University of South Dakota.


Walder also serves as president of the South Dakota Elementary Principal’s Association.

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