HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Karissa Lang, principal of Crestline Elementary School in Hartselle, was surprised with a great honor at a school assembly Friday morning.

Lang, who has been the principal at Crestline Elementary School in Hartselle since 2017, was named Alabama’s 2023 National Distinguished Principal and presented the award during a school-wide assembly on Friday morning.

A panel of judges selected Lang as the winner of the award given by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. She was named as one of three finalists for the award in early February.

Now, Alabama’s National Distinguished Principal will be recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the annual Convention of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) on June 13, 2023, in Mobile, Ala. and in November at the Alabama Association of Elementary School AdministratorsFall Instructional Leadership Conference.

Lang will also be invited to take a trip to Washington D.C. for an award luncheon and National Distinguished Principal Awards Ceremony in October, where she will be honored alongside other winning principals.

“This award is not about me. To me it’s an opportunity to highlight what we do here. I think it showcases… the good things that we do for kids and that’s what we want to continue. You know, my job is to be a servant leader. My job is to make sure that teachers, kids, and staff have everything they need every day,” Lang said.

Prior to starting her role as principal at Crestline in 2017, Lang was a teacher and assistant principal. She first became a principal in 2013.

CLAS said that under Lang, test scores at the school have improved, disciplinary issues have decreased and parent and community involvement has improved. She created an environmental science program at the school where students can attend weekly meetings and participate in hands-on activities like growing vegetables, composting, recycling and more outside of the classroom.

Lang is currently raising money for a SNAP playground so all students can be included in play.