CREEDS — Getting to know the community and the students is the key to being an effective elementary school principal, according to Douglas Knapp, the new principal at Creeds Elementary School.
Knapp, who replaced Casey Conger as principal on July 1, said that he plans to spend a lot of time listening and getting to know people during his first year at the rural school.
“Building meaningful relationships is the core foundation to success,” Knapp said. “When I first come into a school, one of the first things that I do is sit and listen. I take time to get into the culture the first year, and I do a lot of listening and observing.”
Knapp came to Creeds from Fairfield Elementary School, where he served as principal for nine years. One of the most obvious differences between the schools is size, he said. Fairfield has 560 students compared to Creeds’ 325, and Knapp said the smaller size allows him to get to know the students and the teachers better.
The school’s biggest strength is the sense of community and history, Knapp said. “This school has a knowledge of its own history. It honors history, but at the same time it looks to move forward.”
The Ocean Lakes resident already had some knowledge of the school and community when he first came to Creeds. He grew up in Virginia Beach and fished in Back Bay with his father, and he has attended the Pungo Strawberry Festival for many years.
After he graduated from First Colonial High School, Knapp attended Virginia Tech, where he received a degree in business management, and the University of Virginia, where he earned his master’s degree in education.
Knapp has worked in Virginia Beach Public Schools for 25 years. He entered the system as a social studies and language arts teacher at Princess Anne Middle School. He also worked as assistant principal at Birdneck Elementary and at Linkhorn Park Elementary before going to Fairfield.
Knapp has a son, Noah, who is a student at the United States Military Academy, and a daughter, McKenzie, who is a senior at Ocean Lakes High School. His wife, Katie, is an instructional technology specialist at Bayside Middle School.
Knapp said that he looks forward to upcoming school activities that will give him a chance to more fully integrate into the community, and members of the Creeds Parent Teacher Association said that they look forward to working with him to coordinate these events.
PTA president Jessica Harschutz said Knapp is maintaining close contact with the PTA. She added that she thought that Knapp appreciated their input and their knowledge and experience of the school.
“It’s always easy working with him,” Harschutz said. “He wants to be involved in all of our events.”
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