Flenniken Takes Over Officially as Principal of Sparta


Jenny George

Principal Lana Flenniken welcomed gold-medal winner Hayleigh Washington back to Doherty for a special visit.

When former principal Kevin Gardner stepped down in the summer of 2021, assistant principal Lana Flenniken stepped in as interim principal while the district conducted an official search. Assistant principal Hillary Hienton explains the process, “School District 11 started posting an available position to create a pool of possible applicants in October. Around that same time, the Executive Director and I hosted focus groups with staff, students, and community members to create a principal profile. This profile included attributes, character qualities, and experiences we wanted our next principal to have. That information was posted on the Doherty website and in January, the District posted the position for two weeks for people to apply to.”

Interim Principal Lana Flenniken decided to apply for the official opening. “I chose to apply for the principal position this year because I love this school, I believe in this school and I want Doherty to be the best high school in Colorado Springs.  That means we have to build a culture of excellence, belonging, and service.  That everyone here works each day to be their absolute best, that everyone here feels a sense of belonging and knows that there are adults in this building that truly care and that we strive for WE before me.”

Hienton helped to guide the process. She continued: “There were very few applicants at the end of those two weeks, so the District chose to post it again. At that point, there were quite a few more applicants. The District conducted a paper screen and a round of interviews. Applicants who did well in the District were passed to the school where seven candidates were left. The school conducted interviews with staff members representing each department and employee group during a school day. That evening there were two additional interviews; one with a student group and one with a parent group. Each group recommended two candidates to move forward along with reasons why. Those candidates moved on to an interview round with our Acting Superintendent. He recommended hiring Mrs. Flenniken and the Board of Education then approved her.”

When asking around school, students said that they that Mrs. Flenniken would provide guidance and stability to Doherty. Mrs. Hienton added, “Mrs. Flenniken has worked at Doherty for 17 years in different roles- teacher, dean, AP, and now Principal. She knows every corner of this building. She lives and breathes Sparta and knows what it means to be a part of this community. She has great ideas to improve academics and the culture and has built an excellent team to support that vision.” 

According to students and teachers, Mrs. Flenniken is a great fit. English teacher Mrs. Sheri Landis explained: “Mrs. Flenniken is the heart and soul of Doherty students and staff, and she listens and isn’t afraid to make hard decisions. She continually gives herself and her talents and she is a beautiful human who understands Doherty culture and is willing to step up and do the hard work to take us through this next season in Sparta.”

When Lana Flenniken became principal, she sent out an email notifying everyone that she was honored to be named the new principal and she also stated her “academic” life. She says, “I came to Doherty as a Business Education/Marketing teacher and served in this role for five years. During this time, I was also the DECA Advisor and coached C Team Girls Basketball and Varsity Girls Golf.  I also served as a dean of students for one year before accepting an assistant principal position at Liberty High School for the 2008-2009 school year.  I returned to Doherty in August of 2009 as an assistant principal…” She said that she could not see herself anywhere else but here at Doherty.

To achieve a good work/life balance, she says, ” I try really hard to finish work each day so that when I go home, I’m home.  I also try to work out 3-4 times a week during the school year to relieve stress.”

When asked what her plans for Doherty’s future her reply was unforgettable! “[I want to see] Doherty as the premier high school of School District 11 and Colorado Springs. I want to show potential students and parents that Doherty is an amazing school that offers opportunities for all students. I want to be known for strong academics, a supportive learning environment, and a school with amazing school spirit where students thrive both in and out of the classroom.”  She loves the We Before Me concept.  She says, “To me, We before me, simply means that we always think and consider others.  That we strive each day to serve others whenever possible.”

For the first time in five years, all of the administrators will be returning to Doherty, so as she noted in an email to staff,  the consistency of the team should really help her make the improvements she is hoping to make.  She sees this as a second home “because I’ve worked here since 2002 and I truly love this staff and the student body.”