Opportunity for collaboration excites new Westside principal
When Dr. Chris Kamrath attended the May 21 River Falls Board of Education meeting, he had thought he was just there to introduce himself to the school board after they approved his hiring as the new principal at Westside Elementary.
"While I waited for them to get to my part of the agenda, I was amazed to hear all the things they had going on. They are such a proactive district with some of the work and the things that they have going on," Kamrath said. "I walked out smiling knowing that it was going to be a wonderful opportunity."
Kamrath will start as principal on July 1 after completing his time at Somerset Elementary, where he spent the last four years.
"It was a very hard decision for me. I've loved my time in Somerset and when I came to Somerset, I fully intended to finish my career here," Kamrath said. "I really never looked to leave, but this opportunity presented itself. After reflecting on it for a while, it just kind of made sense for me for several reasons."
Kamrath is familiar with River Falls from his time in the community. His first teaching job was at St. Bridget's Catholic School. In addition, Kamrath's sister lives in Prescott and his parents may retire to the area as well.
"The two other principals that I'll be working with at the elementary level have been there awhile, so I'm really excited about the collaboration that we can have between the three of us," Kamrath said. "They've stuck around for a reason. They enjoy it there and both have expertise that I will enjoy learning from."
During a recent visit to Westside Elementary, Kamrath met several staff members and was pleasantly surprised to get a letter from each staff member saying how excited they were to have him on board.
"Their current principal had them do that and it was great to see the sense of family and pride they have for their school," Kamrath said. "I'm very excited to join that community. I intend to have my kids go to school there in the next year or so. It was such a good thing for me to be both a parent and a staff member because you get the full view and perspective. I think it helped me do the best I could do."
Kamrath was quick to compliment both the district and the elementary schools specifically for the work they have put into the character ed program.
"I'm going to invest my time this summer to get to know what is going on there. Next year will be a transition year while I get to experience what they are doing. I'd like to get the staff fully involved and get their input on what we are doing well and what we are proud of. I'll also be looking for input on what we want to keep championing and what we want to look at more closely," Kamrath said. "They have a passionate caring staff, so I'm excited to go from one of those to another one of those in my new position.
"My wife and I just remember how much we like the city of River Falls. Life brought us away, but here we are again. It is a beautiful place and we are excited to be there."