Carolynn Walsleben, principal at Candlewood Elementary School in Redland/Rockville, is this year’s winner of the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award. The Mark Mann award is presented annually to an MCPS administrator who has shown exceptional performance in promoting academic excellence, positive human relations and community outreach.
Walsleben has been principal at Candlewood since 2020. She began her teaching career in MCPS in 1999, as a first grade teacher at Bells Mill Elementary School. Colleagues, staff members and parents say Walsleben is a natural leader. She is a strong administrator who exemplifies what it means to be a caring, forward-thinking, data-driven leader. She sets high expectations, and believes in progress and celebrating along the way. As curriculum changes, she ensures that adequate tools and support are put in place so staff can efficiently meet student needs. She continually encourages staff to become social together and to build strong relationships, knowing that students will benefit from their strong bonds and positive energy. She helps teams build on one another’s strengths, and uses her skills to build the capacity of other leaders.
Walsleben is committed to creating an environment where her students and staff can thrive. She is highly respected by her staff, in part because of her dedication to developing the capacity of others and continuous improvement. She is reflective, open and seeks regular feedback to maximize her results. She uses data to provide solid reasoning for where her students are or have been, but she sees students as individuals and not as compilations of test scores.
Every morning, she greets students outdoors in the pickup line, extending a kind word to families. She believes in the importance of a school community that is engaged, well-informed and supported. She cares not only about academic success for students and professional development for staff, but also about their mental health and morale.
She asks about sick children at home. She wipes down dirty cafeteria tables during lunch. She has covered classes so teachers can get testing done. She has helped paraeducators and building service workers improve their skills so they can qualify for jobs beyond Candlewood. She asks what her team needs and listens to what works. “The job of an MCPS administrator is difficult, but Carolynn Walsleben makes it look easy,” wrote kindergarten teacher Cindy Graham. “She demonstrates what it means to care about every component of the Candlewood community.”
Walsleben graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with an associate’s degree in early childhood education, and from SUNY Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. After Bells Mill, she taught at Woodfield Elementary School. Before joining Candlewood, she served as an assistant principal at Greenwood Elementary School and acting principal at Carl Sandburg Learning Center.
Courtesy of MCPS