Principal Q&A: Meet Crystal River Elementary School’s principal, Mr. K
The Post Independent continues its occasional series of interviews with school principals in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
This week, we asked Crystal River Elementary School Principal Matt Koenigsknecht to share a little about himself and his approach to leading Carbondale’s neighborhood elementary school.
You were part of the Ritchie Principal Internship program in the Denver Public Schools, and a classroom teacher prior to that, before coming to CRES in 2015. How did those experiences prepare you for your current position?
Those experiences shaped the person and educator I am today, especially my time in the classroom. I will never forget finishing my first day of teaching in second grade at McMeen Elementary in DPS, plopping into my chair, and thinking, “How am I going to do this for a whole year?!” But a few months later, I was hooked, and it was the kids who did it. I fell in love with serving diverse populations of students and that is a huge factor that brought me to Carbondale.
You were part of the Summer Advantage Program locally in Basalt, as well. What’s the value of that program, and how have you observed CRES students benefit?
I see so much value in all summer, early childhood and enrichment programming, and Summer Advantage is such an outstanding service for the students of our valley. In addition to the obvious benefits of consistent academics, food security and enrichment opportunities, I also see relationship building as a major benefit; many CRES/RFSD teachers are a part of the program and they get to build strong relationships with future students over the summer and start the year off strong.
CRES is a pretty tight-knit school community. How do you work to engage parents in school decisions?
CRES is absolutely the closest community of any school I have ever worked in, and we are so thankful for everyone who comes together to make it the special place it is. We use a variety of channels to engage parents, from formal and informal feedback forms to PTO to parent coffees and parent engagement nights. All of them are important and we synthesize information we get from those various sources to help guide the important decisions we have to make.
Describe a few of your most rewarding moments at CRES since arriving.
My very favorite tradition each year is our Parade of Graduates. The graduating seniors from RFHS come down to CRES and walk through the halls to cheers, music, high-fives, and hugs. It is such a special moment for the seniors and for our students to see those amazing models within their local school community. We have many siblings celebrating together and so many of our teachers had some of the graduating seniors as little ones, so it’s an amazing moment for all involved. I’m incredibly sad that we won’t have the opportunity to come together this year to celebrate our graduates, eighth graders, fourth graders, and all of our students for the hard work they put in.
What is the one thing you hope CRES students will learn before moving on to middle school?
While, of course, one of the main aspects of our mission is academic achievement, on a personal level I hope that our students will take strong character strengths with them to the middle school. Primarily, we hope to develop our Habits of a Scholar — executive skills, perseverance, enthusiasm, compassion, and teamwork — over the time we have our students. I strongly believe if we are working hard to develop those five characteristics in our students then we will be setting them up for success in all aspects of their lives.
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