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Principal Spotlight - Marci Knauft

October is an opportunity to show your appreciation for Walla Walla Public Schools’ principals in celebration of National Principal Appreciation Month. The school district recognizes the essential role principals play in providing opportunities for students to realize their potential and follow their dreams. This month the district will spotlight its principals as a way of thanking them for their service.

Lincoln High School principal Marci Knauft believes she was destined to be a teacher. Her grandma was an elementary teacher and Marci loved to hear her stories of her grandma teaching in one-room school houses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her great aunt Mabel was also a teacher and Marci looked forward to looking through the books and materials she saved from her classroom, many of which she still has in her collection of keepsakes.

Marci’s mother tells stories of how as a little girl Marci would line up her teddy bears and begin teaching them. She loved school from day one and always saw herself becoming a teacher. But before her time in a classroom would eventually come, her life’s journey would take to the inside passage of Alaska to help support her family. This experience helped Marci develop the grit and determination she still models daily at Lincoln High School.

Marci was born in Newberg, OR and grew up in the Portland area. She attended Auburn Adventist Academy boarding school in Auburn, WA her junior and senior years of high school. During the summers of her high school years, she would travel to Elfin Cove, Alaska to work as a nanny for families of the commercial fishermen.This majestic natural wilderness was accessible only by floatplane or boat. Soon it was time to make a decision on college and Marci elected to enroll in Walla Walla College, now Walla Walla University, in the lush valley deeply rooted with her extended family. She majored in Elementary Education with minors in Psychology and Special Education.

Marci continued traveling to Elfin Cove during the summers of her college years to earn money for her education. For the first two summers during college, Marci and her brother teamed up to operate a hand trolling 22’ fishing boat. She would spend up to 14 hours a day fishing for salmon and would earn $200 to $1200 a day depending on how many fish they could hand crank into the boat. This was especially good money 30 years ago! Marci bragged she would clean a salmon in 19 seconds during her prime. Once an orca came so close to the boat she could have reached out and touched it.

Her parents owned the only restaurant in Elfin Cove so Marci joined them in the business the last two summers of her college years. She would help her family make meals from scratch for the hungry fishermen and their families. The restaurant was open seven days a week and her work days were often from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. She said the restaurant was best known for its delicious cinnamon rolls. Marci still enjoys cooking to this day and utilizes many of the skills in her own kitchen she learned from her days in the remote Alaskan restaurant.

Marci’s time in Alaska came to an end when she landed her first full-time job for Walla Walla Public Schools at Berney Elementary and started the first Special Education self-contained classroom. Marci has an extensive background in Special Education. She holds a master’s degree in students-at-risk from Walla Walla College, is nationally certified in Special Education and has taught numerous college-level courses on the subject. She held her position at Berney for eight years before transferring to Paine Alternative High School, now Lincoln High School, to work in special education. A career highlight for Marci was having her mother, who had retired from restaurant business in Alaska and relocated to the Walla Walla valley, serve as her para-educator at Paine for four years. Former Special Education Director Betty Schubert has a special place in Marci’s heart for serving as her mentor over the years. Marci has been at the helm of Lincoln High School as its principal for the past eight years.

When she is not working at Lincoln High School, Marci spends time teaching the 3 to 5-year-old children at the Walla Walla University Church each week. She also enjoys gardening, yard work, crafting, and antiques. She and her husband Ted met in high school. They have four children - Dominic (26), Quinton (24), Peyton (19) and Lexington (15) and a 4-year-old granddaughter, Alice. Marci also has two cute black and white terriers.

Here is what staff are saying about Marci:
"I admire and appreciate Marci, because she is so hard working. It's easy to respect and appreciate the hardest working person in the building. She is the most teacher supporting principal I have ever had." Terry Klinefelter, teacher.

"I appreciate so many things about you (Marci), but in particular, just this month, I am grateful to you for regular graciousness and understanding in my on-boarding process. You've made it so easy to join the team! Thank you!" Victoria Lidzbarski.

"Marci brings everyone onboard and supports us anyway she can. She is a seeker, looking for new ways to keep kids on track to graduation." Pat Kofler, teacher

Marci Knauft is well known across the district for being a hard worker. Her early years in Alaska helped shape her into the leader she is today. Thank you for dedicating your professional life to help the youth of Walla Walla realize their hopes and dreams.

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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