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MVHS Assistant Principal Don Kotnik Named CASE "2021 Assistant Principal of the Year"

Don Kotnik

DENVER — The Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) is thrilled to recognize Mountain View High School (MVHS) assistant principal, Don Kotnik, as the 2021 Secondary School Assistant Principal of the Year for Colorado. Kotnik was selected by a committee of his peers through a highly competitive process facilitated by the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals (CASSP), a department of CASE and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).


In his three years at Mountain View High School, Kotnik has been an exemplary leader whose focus on student empowerment and growth has fostered a culture that uplifts the student voice. He led the charge to design and introduce the MVHS Freshman Academy Program, an effort to support students academically and socially-emotionally as they transition to high school. He also introduced an upperclassmen leadership course, in which older students are paired as mentors with freshman, helping students at all levels to build relationships, focus on community and grow as leaders. The program has created a culture of empathy, confidence, school spirit and encouragement on the Mountain View High School campus. Students and staff alike have shared that the building feels like a safe, inclusive and supportive environment.


“The [Freshman Seminar] teachers showed they had an emotional connection with us, which made me trust them and helped me want to do better,” said one tenth grader at Mountain View. “I know Mr. Kotnik started the Freshman Seminar class, and I don’t know where I would be without that support.”


According to one teacher at Mountain View, Kotnik’s focus on supporting the Mountain View community only grew during the pandemic. He made home visits and deliveries for students once schools closed, making sure technology needs were met so that it wouldn’t be a barrier to anybody’s success.


“Don’s leadership is empowering and supporting the needs of our future leaders. In a particularly difficult year, he has managed to still create a sense of community and belonging for everyone at Mountain View,” said CASE Executive Director Bret Miles. “Don is more than deserving of this recognition, and he’s a great role model for education leaders everywhere.”


For Kotnik, this award is an indication that his approach — listening to students and teachers, prioritizing meaningful relationships and fostering growth and wellbeing — contains the right ingredients for success.


“By being true to myself, taking risks, learning from failures, and asking for help, I’ve been able to make an impact on staff, students, and the school as a whole,” he said. “Winning this award validates the time, energy, effort, and commitment our team has put toward our Freshman Academy program. It shows that our administrative team and staff are working together to come up with innovative ideas to help Mountain View High School progress.”


Kotnik will be recognized this spring at the 2021 CASE Awards Reception. He will also represent Colorado at the NASSP National Principals Conference this summer.



The Colorado Association of School Executives ( ) is the preeminent professional association for public school administrators in Colorado. The organization’s mission is to empower Colorado education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking to deliver on the promise of public education.