Editor’s note: This is the third in a series introducing Ramona Unified School District’s new leaders to the community.
By Pixie Sulser
News travels fast in a small town, so when people heard the new principal hired to replace Tony Newman at Ramona High School had once been a superintendent and was now a principal again, the question was why? The answer is simple.
Christopher King, Ph.D., started his career in education as a custodian in the Colorado school system while he worked his way through college. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English and his teaching credential from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., King taught at the high school level.
Over his 30 years in the Colorado school system, King moved from the classroom into administration, holding positions as assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent where he oversaw principals of area schools, deputy superintendent where he continued to supervise principals but also oversaw everything instructional, and eventually became superintendent of a district of approximately 29,000 students in its 55 schools.
The Colorado educational system has a retirement formula based on age plus number of service years regardless of the positions held within the employee’s tenure. At a certain point, it becomes financially prudent for the employee to retire since his or her earning potential has reached its peak. King reached that mark about the time his two children, Connor and Roxy, started to think about college in California.
“My son, Connor, was a high school wrestler, and we had traveled quite a bit with his career; and my daughter, Roxy, is a singer/songwriter who often works in Los Angeles, so we had come to California frequently. As college approached for Connor, and Roxy’s career was growing, it made sense to move.”
When he retired, “we headed to California and settled in Poway. It was awesome. My kids went to Poway High School so I volunteered and just kicked around for the first year.”
Eventually, however, King tired of life as a retiree and took a position as an interim superintendent in Anaheim.
“When that finished, I was looking for something and came across this opportunity in Ramona,” he said.
So, why a high school principalship? As King explains it, high school is what he loves best.
“I like the vibe of high schools, and I’m really big on athletics and the arts,” he said. “The stuff that excites me a lot for kids are things like yearbook, the school newspaper, arts, music, theater and sports. I love sports! When I left my high school principal position, it was those extracurricular things that I missed the most. Coming back to a high school campus is where I want to be, and I’m fortunate to be able to make that choice.”
King’s wife, Kelley, is a fellow educator who spent 12 years as an elementary school principal and now works with the Gurian Institute as an educational writer and speaker coaching other educators in understanding the physiological and chemical brain differences between boys and girls.
“She works with principals, helping them rethink their schools in terms of how boys learn best, looking at achievement gaps and helping educators understand that boys learn differently than girls,” explained King.
Outside of education, King and his wife enjoy antiquing, which is what first brought them to Ramona.
“I like to bird hunt, ride dirt bikes, go off-roading, and refinish antique furniture. I’m an antique nut,” shared King. “My wife and I like to go out looking around at antique stores, and that’s how we found Ramona.”
In his role as RHS principal, King hopes to bring a different perspective to the school.
“I am not coming in with any charge to turn this place on its ear or make massive changes, but I think I will be able to ask why we do things a certain way and maybe make suggestions from another perspective,” he said. “I have worked in six different high schools over the years so I have seen a lot of different systems including urban, suburban and rural. I think I just bring a fresh set of eyes.”
He is also looking forward to meeting as many members of the community as he can and invites interested students, parents, and community members to make an appointment with his office by calling 760-787-4004.