Walking into the cafeteria to the cheers of students and staff at Berkman Arts Integration Academy, principal Kathy Cawthron received the surprise of the year as she was named a finalist for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Principal Award.

Along with her entire campus, Cawthron was surprised by a group of H-E-B representatives and District administrators with news of the honor. Along with the accomplishment, H-E-B awarded Cawthron with a $2,500 grant for her campus and a $1,000 cash prize.

“Principal Kathy Cawthron is an amazing leader and understands the importance of dreaming big and taking action for our kids,” said Superintendent Steve Flores, Ph.D. “The wonderful and successful transformation of Berkman Elementary into an Arts Integration Academy is a result of her leadership. This campus is a point of pride for our District and a school of choice for our community.”

The Principal award honors exceptional leaders who have made a positive impact on campus culture and built strong community relationships. If selected as the statewide winner, Cawthron will receive a $25,000 grant for Berkman and a $10,000 personal prize.

“This is the most rewarding job in the world,” Cawthron said. “Getting to see our kids come in with smiles each day and be excited to be here is a reward. Everything we do comes back to our kids and is because of our kids. We are a family and community at Berkman.”

Cawthron has been the principal of Berkman since 2015 and has 23 years of experience in education.

H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards finalists will gather in Austin in May where the winners will be announced.