New Frisco Elementary principal hopes to help students ‘grow together’
Frisco Elementary School’s new Principal Todd Kirkendall’s philosophy on learning is clear as soon as you walk into his office.
Written on his white board is the phrase “Growing Together,” along with a question asking what that means to you. A T-shirt with the same slogan is pinned up on his wall.
“That will be our thing; we’re going to grow together,” Kirkendall said. “Our students are going to grow together and grow to care for each other. … We spend so much of our time here that this will be our extended family. That’s really the message.”
Just over a week into his new role, Kirkendall is making himself at home. He said many parents and teachers, who are not yet required to be at work, have gone out their way to greet him and welcome him to the community.
“People make the difference,” Kirkendall said. “If you’ve got great, motivated, loving, caring teachers, you’re going to have a great school. I just plan to get out of their way and let them be great teachers.”
Kirkendall will work with the teachers and community to determine what it means to them to grow together, and he said it will become the model that leads the school. He said he believes the school is the center of the community, and he has enjoyed getting to see kids in the building through Frisco’s day camp programs.
“The kids have such full hearts, and I’ve just been walking out and seeing the excitement in their eyes,” Kirkendall said. “They’re just full of life and growing like crazy. They change almost every day, and that’s pretty exciting.”
Prior to joining Summit School District, Kirkendall ran at-risk programs for Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs. He said he will miss seeing the difference he helped make in kids’ lives through the programs, but he hopes his experience will further contribute to his position now.
Kirkendall said he believes in leading with kindness and hopes to create an environment that feels like an extended family. He said he will always have an open door and wants to be a great listener.
“I want everybody to feel loved and respected and cared for, and that’s what I’m going to bring,” he said. “It’s very important that we think about what people are going through. It matters how they feel and how they learn, including the teachers. So empathy will be a big part of what we teach.”
Going into the school year, Kirkendall hopes to get back to what the school has always done, and he’ll be asking teachers and community members about the school’s customs. He said the school is planning to host its traditional Night Before School celebration, though he is unsure what it will look like logistically.
Kirkendall said the biggest goal for the upcoming year is to be in school five days a week, especially for the kids who have yet to have a normal elementary school experience. While it is still unclear what exactly those school days will look like, he is hopeful and excited to get started.
“That’s got to be the goal,” he said. “We have to do everything we (can) to be safe to get there. If it means we have to wear a mask, well, then we might have to wear masks. But I want kids here every day because some of them have never had it.”
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