Kara Ammerman

Principal, Echo Trail Middle School
Class of 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2016

Many teachers consider education a calling, but perhaps none more so than alumna Kara Ammerman.

Education called out to Ammerman many times in her life, for herself and now for the hundreds of students she influences as a middle school principal. In fact, education called out to Ammerman so frequently she earned four degrees and one certificate at UofL’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

“I really love UofL because if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t keep coming back to get all of my degrees,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a graduate of UofL and what it has given me.”

Ammerman ’07, ’08, ’13, ’16, is now the principal at Echo Trail Middle School, Jefferson County Public School’s (JCPS) newest middle school, where she is instilling the same sense of empowerment she learned in college to pre-teens beginning to discover who they are.

“I’m so invested in having the opportunity to teach because I want to give back,” she said. “That’s why I tell my students I want to give them what was given to me when I was in their seat. I want to learn what I can tweak to continue this partnership of not only helping students, but also helping the next generation of leaders.”

A Lexington native, Ammerman arrived at UofL to play volleyball. She ended up making Louisville – and JCPS – her home.

The partnership between UofL, CEHD and Kentucky’s largest school system is something Ammerman is proud of and sees as critical. The level of personal interest in her success that Ammerman felt as a UofL student is something she carries with her as a JCPS leader.

“The College of Education wants to see us be successful in not only what we’re doing at UofL, but in how that translates to JCPS,” she said. “When we want to show our students different opportunities in our city, such as engineering, business, communications and consumer science, we can call UofL knowing we have a personal connection that can get us to whomever to make that field trip or experience happen.”

Ammerman’s first UofL degrees, a bachelor’s in health and human performance and a master’s in teaching, helped her get her first JCPS job as a health and physical education teacher at Doss High School.

She wound her way through the JCPS system, picking up degrees from UofL in tandem. She earned a specialist degree for principals and served in the administration at Waggener High School, Myers Middle School and Shelby Traditional Academy. Along the way she earned her doctorate in teaching. She spent four years leading Crosby Middle School – earning Middle School Principal of the Year Honors in 2021 – before being the inaugural principal at Echo Trail.

“Being at Echo Trail is an opportunity of a lifetime because you truly get this moment in time where you get to create your own culture, traditions, how instruction is provided and even the school colors and mascot,” she said. “It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity because it’s about the community, the people I’m serving and the students.”

Middle school students are in an important phase of life where Ammerman realizes the importance of teaching them the value of education – both in book learning as well as life lessons.

“I love middle school so much because students will still listen to your advice and you can see them turning into young adults,” she said. “You can try to lay a solid foundation of self-worth, how we interact with others, how we communicate our opinions and agree to disagree. There’s so much intentionality that you can wire their brain systems to be critical thinkers going into high school, so that hopefully you lay a solid enough foundation without cracks.”

Ammerman, whose most recent credential from UofL was a superintendent certification, has her sights set on leadership at a district level – though she is in no rush and loves being at the school level. She prides herself in making a difference in education by taking on challenges and finding solutions that lead to thriving futures.

“I tell my kids, ‘I want you to be awesome while I have you here for the seven hours a day for three years, but I want you to be amazing throughout your life because of all the things I’m teaching you’,“ she said. “It’s not just about the knowledge that we are giving our kids, it is the habits and routines and belief systems that if they can do these things confidently, they’re going to be successful human beings.”