DALLAS – Some people see a challenge in working with middle school students. Kasshawna (Kass) Knoll, the new principal at LaCreole Middle School in Dallas, takes delight in the age group.
“The great thing about middle school is there is some much potentiality there, and they just crack me up.” Knoll said. “They can make you cry or they can make you laugh. There isn’t a whole of in-between in middle school. I adore them.”
Knoll replaces former principal Jamie Richardson, who took on the role of executive director of Dallas Community School, a home-school charter school in Dallas. She comes with 12 years of administrative experience in Oregon Trail School District in Sandy, most recently as the vice principal at the Oregon Trail Academy.
Before embarking on an education career that took her to Dallas, Texas, then to Budapest, Hungry and back to Oregon, Knoll grew up near Silverton.
That Dallas’ small-town atmosphere reminded her of home didn’t hurt when she was contemplating her latest career move.
“It is so similar to what I grew up with. I feel that I am very comfortable here,” Knoll said. “Everyone has been so warm and so welcoming. From the minute I did my interview I was just like, I love these people. I hope they pick me.”
Dallas Superintendent Andy Bellando said he is glad to have someone with Knolls varied background at the middle school.
“We are very pleased to see her application and are very excited to have her on board as the principal,” Bellando said. “She brings over 25 years in educational experience as a teacher who not only taught in the United States, but has taught oversees.”
He said her experience working at different grade levels and with students with different needs as a teacher and administrator was especially appealing. Most of her administrative experience has been in middle school, though she’s had high school teaching experience.
“She has experience with ELL (English language learner) students, she was the talented and gifted coordinator at Oregon Trail for many years, she has a significant background in instructional improvement and in support of teachers in instructional improvement,” Bellando said. “She has both middle and high school experiences that I know will support LaCreole Middle School very well. Having that experience to create that seamless transition between sixth and 12th grade is a real bonus.”
Her teaching experience started 25 years ago at a high school in Dallas, Texas, and then she moved to Budapest, to teach at an American international school for 10 years.
“I taught economics there. It was the embassy school,” Knoll said. “We had a lot of the ambassadors’ kids. It was a very interesting and valuable experience.”
She returned to Oregon to be the talented and gifted program coordinator for Oregon Trail School District, eventually becaming the assistant principal at the district charter school.
At her new post in Dallas, she’s overseeing a start of a year has come with the extra challenge of reintroducing students to full-time school and seeing that students, staff and visitors all follow the required COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Knoll said the students have been great with the new rules.
“It’s been great to see them smile, even through the mask, their little squinty eyes,” she said. There are so excited and have been so good and sweet.”
She said LaCreole’s staff is top notch, as well.
“I feel like I’ve landed in admin heaven,” she said. “This is just a super great place.”
Knoll said the year has just begun, but already she feels at home.
“I want to thank the Dallas community for the welcome I have gotten,” Knoll said. “My door is open any time someone needs to come talk to me. That’s what I’m here for, here to serve the community.”