Conversation with … Kelly Farrell, Kremmling PK-8 principal
May 20, 2008
Kelly Farrell is the principal of West Grand School District’s new PK-8 School. That $11 million school opened in January, replacing the district’s middle and elementary schools.
A Grand County native, Farrell grew up in Granby and graduated from Middle Park High School in 1995. After teaching in Littleton and Fraser, she moved to Kremmling five years ago to teach at West Grand Middle School. She became the principal of West Grand Elementary last school year and is now the principal of the PK-8 School.
On a busy school day last week, Farrell took time out from counseling individual students, dealing with parent requests and handling the administrative details of running the school to be interviewed.
Now that you’ve been a principal for a couple of years, how do you like the job?
“It’s a very, very rewarding but demanding position. You’re both the coolest and the not-coolest person in the same breath. It’s all about finding the right balance.
My first year as principal was a big learning curve for me. I had taught middle school and loved teaching middle school students. When I became principal of West Grand Elementary, I had to learn that elementary students and teachers are different from the middle school. And on top of that, we were also working on the bond election at the time.
Now at our new PK-8 School, I’m dealing with kids at all grade levels. When I was the principal at the elementary school, there was some downtime once in a while in the office. But here at the combined elementary-middle school, there is always someone at the office and things are going on. It’s a challenge but I love it. What really helps is that we have a great staff here at the PK-8. We’re making it happen.”
How was the transition from being the principal of West Grand Elementary to the PK-8 School?
“We’re very thankful to the community for approving the bond to allow us to build this new school. As its principal, I now don’t have to worry as much about the building. At West Grand Elementary, that building was falling apart and we had some significant leaks in the roof. We were forced to do a lot of patching just to keep it usable. It’s such a relief to get this great new building.
“In late December and early January, it was the big push to get out of our old buildings and into our new one. Moving is always hard, but we had a lot of tremendous volunteers who helped us over the Christmas break. Because of all the help we received from the community, the move went much more smoothly than I had hoped.”
Because the move was made mid-school year, how is the adjustment to the new school building going?
“There were, of course, new routines that were needed for this new, bigger building. You try to prepare for everything ahead of time to make things go as smoothly as possible, but there were still some changes that had to be made once we began classes here. But that really is the fun part.
“As for the building itself, it’s great. There are some minor things that needed to be addressed, but nothing serious. Since the building opened in January, there were some things that could not be addressed immediately, such as landscaping, which had to wait until this spring.”
Next fall, your new school will be incorporating the Kremmling Preschool classes. Are you looking forward to preschoolers in the building?
“We’re excited about the addition of preschool classes in our school with the kindergarten and preschool classes working together. I think this will really work out great. The current preschool facility was not large enough to serve all the children who wanted to attend, but we’ll be able to do it here. This will give every child the chance to be in preschool to help prepare them for kindergarten.
How has the Kremmling community reacted to having this new PK-8 building?
“Our community is amazing and so supportive. Parents and businesses are only too willing to step forward to help when we need it. For example, just the other day, we had to unload materials from a semi-truck and Northwest Supply volunteered to bring over their forklift. That kind of support from the community is constantly being made available to us.
“The community, who voted to build this building, is also making use of it. We have adult basketball here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the community volleyball teams use it on Wednesdays. And, of course, all our middle school sports can be held here. With these new gyms, we can now hold both high school and community tournaments. There is a lot of potential here. It’s exciting.”
What are your goals for the future here at the PK-8?
“Right now, we have a great facility and staff. We’re right at the tipping point. We want to take this school to the next level academically. It’s our goal to become a School of Excellence.”