Beginning after the start of the New Year, Maple Valley High School has a new principal. Michael Knapp has stepped into the position after leaving a 15-year legacy as teacher, assistant principal, and coach at Ionia Public Schools. Knapp has been an educator for the last 20 years, and he is enthusiastically joining a smaller district that he believes has the potential and credentials to match any other district in the area.

Knapp started his career in education at Portland Public Schools, and later moved to Ionia. In the last 20 years he’s taught business and science classes, and coached several sports including baseball and softball. But the idea of being an educator and a coach only came to him after a profound experience with his own teacher, coach, and mentor, Rich Tompkins. The coaching legend from Fremont Michigan left a positive impact on Knapp, and he then knew what his life calling was.

Since he began his career Knapp knew that he wanted to climb his way up the educational ladder to become a principal. For him, the opportunity to join a school district like Maple Valley was one not to pass up. He appreciates the close-knit community in Nashville, the good test scores in the district, and the facilities that have been updated in the last few years. When it came down to the decision to apply for and accept the position, for Knapp it wasn’t about what he could bring to the Maple Valley Schools, but the great educational atmosphere and community that already exists in the district.

“It’s a school the community can have a lot of pride in,” said Knapp. “It’s a great district.”

Coming into the position during the middle of the school year does present certain challenges for Knapp, but he looks forward to spending the first few months as principal simply getting to know his staff and students. He already senses the deep pride and school spirit in the student body, as well as the dedication and hard work of the teachers and staff.

Knapp isn’t concerned about coming into the position of principal and trying to make a lot of sudden and uneducated changes. He wants to learn more about the Maple Valley environment and see what has been going well in the district.

Knapp identified the current landscape of education as a promising one. He sees educators all over the country doing the work of collecting data and best practices for classrooms, and he believes Maple Valley is doing the same. Instead of simply teaching students to spew out test answers, or training them only for college, Knapp believes in providing well rounded in-school preparation for post high school life.

“I want kids to be college, or career ready,” said Knapp. “I’ll be working with the counseling and staff, and over all working with students to make sure know about all the options.”

Overall Knapp hopes to set a vision that focuses on providing a tier one education, cultivating a district where students want to be in school getting an education, and building on a safe and trustworthy environment.

“The students have a lot of pride in their school, they want to be here. We can make this a great place. We can build on that.”