At the June 24, 2019, board meeting, the Hays Consolidated Independent School District (Hays CISD) Board of Trustees approved hiring Karen Zuniga as the new principal for Lehman High School. Zuniga is a long-time Hays CISD resident, a Hays High School graduate, and a career Hays CISD educator.
“We are excited to have Karen as the next principal for Lehman High School,” said Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright. “She knows our community and has proven success in our district. She has both secondary and elementary school experience and most recently took a school from ‘improvement required’ status to a ‘B’ letter grade for two years in a row. She is goal and systems driven and will be an outstanding leader for Lehman.”
Dr. Wright said some the key factors teachers and parents said they wanted to see in the next Lehman principal was someone who had grown their leadership skills at Hays CISD and someone who values customer service and communication. Zuniga meets both criteria.
“I think it is wonderful that Karen already knows many of the current Lehman students from her years as assistant principal at Chapa Middle School. In a few short years ahead, she will see her current Science Hall Elementary students become Lehman Lobos,” said Dr. Wright.
Zuniga began her education career as a teacher at Hemphill Elementary School in Hays CISD in 2002. Zuniga also taught at Tobias Elementary and Chapa Middle School before becoming an instructional strategist.
In 2013, she was named the assistant principal at Chapa Middle School, which was granted the prestigious designation of a Texas School to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. In 2017, Zuniga served as the Hays CISD Summer School principal before being named principal of Science Hall Elementary School. Zuniga was tapped for the top leadership role at Science Hall to turn the school around from one that was not meeting state standards, which she did in a single year.
“Visionary, problem solver, passionate, organized, service-minded, and reflective are words that would describe who I am,” said Zuniga in applying for the position. “As the Lehman High School principal, I will establish a positive school culture and educational program conducive to student learning, performance and achievement with a direct focus on staff and student growth. I seek to promote professional development as well as collaborative teamwork and cooperation. My experiences have taught me that hard work, dedication, and perseverance are keys to success. My enthusiasm and conviction to our mission are assets that will bring energy and spirit to the school.”
“Karen is not only a seasoned educator, she is also deeply committed to the communities and children in our district,” said Tim Savoy, Hays CISD chief communication officer. “She is an active volunteer with a 30-year record of service at a variety of local organizations that benefit children.”
Zuniga is the first member of her family to earn a college degree. She earned her Bachelor of Education with a specialization in Special Education from Texas State University. She also holds two masters degrees – one in curriculum and instruction from Texas State University and another in educational leadership and administration from Lamar University.
Among her many awards and achievements, Zuniga has been named the Chapa Middle School Teacher of the Year and an H-E-B Excellence in Education Award semifinalist in the teacher leadership category.