▶ Knight takes leadership post in Middle School

James C. Knight Jr. isn't looking to reinvent the wheel at Beekmantown Middle School.

The new principal largely aims to continue processes that have already begun and improve upon them as the school evolves.

"I am very positive that Beekmantown Central School is one of the shining spots for districts in the North Country," said Knight, 36. "We are fortunate to be advanced in many different ways."

Recently, the Beekmantown School Board unanimously appointed Knight the Middle School principal under a three-year probationary contract at $80,000 yearly.

He replaces Sue Coonrod, who voluntarily requested to return to the classroom.

"She was recently appointed as one of the art teachers in the High School," said Beekmantown Central School Superintendent Scott Amo. "She is an artist herself and always wondered about ending her career back in an art teaching capacity."

A total of 10 individuals applied for the position, including Knight, who had been assistant principal at the Middle School since September 2007.

"Jim was an outstanding candidate, and the committee was unanimous in recommending him to the board," Amo said. "I think he is certainly recognized in our school for his leadership. He is well respected because of his conviction on behalf of children, and he knows the kids and families and faculty."

Knight was born in Saranac Lake but grew up in the Bronx after his father took a job in New York City. He returned to the area during college when his parents retired to Saranac Lake.

Knight earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and was entertaining various business ideas when he began substitute teaching. Teachers noticed something in him that would be beneficial for the classroom and students and encouraged him to pursue teaching.

"I realized that I really enjoyed being around students and encouraging them on their paths for the future."

Knight started exploring opportunities that would allow him to remain in the North Country and enrolled in the special-education graduate program at Plattsburgh State.

Knight has been at Beekmantown Central School for seven years now; he began as a special-education teacher at the High School.

"I like the uniqueness of all students year after year and day after day and the different students you are presented with in the classroom," he said.

Knight next worked as coordinator of the New Beginnings alternative-education program before becoming assistant principal at the Middle School.

"Continuing my pursuit in the realm of education seemed like the logical next step in my career."

Knight enjoys collaborating with staff members and students to help encourage the goal of a stronger community and educational awareness.

Working as assistant principal the past few years and being part of changes already under way are benefits the married father of two brings into his new role.

And he's ready to embrace the challenge of the changing societal perception of the importance of education in a time when families and schools are busier than ever and constantly trying to keep up with technology.

Students, he said, are always the focus.

"As a leader in education, I always want to be firm and fair and consistent and allow the opportunity for students to feel comfortable with an adult as a role model and mentor."

E-mail Stephen Bartlett at: sbartlett@pressrepublican.com

Recommended for you