When Keven Wynkoop graduated from Ballard High School in 1994, he had no idea he’s be running the school one day. After getting his teaching degree, he returned to BHS in 1999, where he taught U.S. History, World History and A.P. Government. He then returned to university to get his Masters of Educational Administration, and entered a new realm of the high school. And now, after serving this school year as interim principal, Wynkoop has become Ballard High School’s official new principal.
There are two teachers on staff that he had when he was a student, Wynkoop said. “I don’t think it’s too weird for them. They probably have Twilight-Zone feelings every once in awhile,” Wynkoop joked. “I think in some ways, if anything, they’re a little proud of it.”
While he was a teacher, Wynkoop coached basketball for ten years. He said it was a great way to get closer to his students, and it’s something he says he misses. “To me, that was one of the important things. I didn’t just want to be a classroom teacher, I wanted to have more perspective,” Wynkoop explained. “Coaching allowed me to see them as students in the classroom, as athletes in the gym, and to really see them as people overall.” And, he said he still has strong friendships with some of those students.
Wynkoop was assistant principal for five years before stepping into his new role last fall. Now as principal, he says he’s tried to maintain some of that perspective and stay connected to students. He helped bring a national program called Link Crew to BHS, where upperclassmen help new freshman feel comfortable and oriented at their new school. While it’s a non-traditional role for a principal to be in charge of the program, Wynkoop said Link Crew allows him to have positive interactions with kids.
When asked if he had any big-picture plans for his time as principal, Wynkoop said he hopes to focus on college readiness. According to Wynkoop, 60 percent of BHS graduates are considered college-ready. “We asked ourselves, what else should we be doing in our classrooms, what should we be expecting of our graduates, how can we get their skills higher, and how can we measure it,” he explained. He said the school may vote to increase high school graduation requirements to help boost those numbers. For example, the Seattle School District requires three years of language arts, but, Wynkoop says they may add an extra year on top of that. “The most basic thing a graduate should leave with is to be able to read and write at a critical level.”