CORVALLIS - Cammie Knapp isn't a principal that sits in her office every day.
In fact, her staff says she must get 20,000 steps a day just because she wants to check in on every classroom and stay involved with the day-to-day at her school. This involvement is just one of the many reasons Knapp was named the Montana Association of Secondary Principals Principal of the Year.
Knapp started her career at Corvallis High School over two decades ago. She has been principal for five years, and since then, has turned the football program around, revamped the homecoming festivities and made sure every student was cared for and had a mentor to go to, according to her students.
Knapp has an open-door policy, which means she is always available to talk with her students about anything.
"She's just really caring, really open-minded and is just a great person for Corvallis High School," said Corvallis High School senior Sydney Wolsky.
Neela Andres, who played a large part in nominating Knapp for the award, says Knapp does everything she can to make sure everyone in her school feels loved and included.
“She absolutely goes above and beyond in so many small initiatives, like, she makes sure that our students who are on the verge of failing out but also the students that are our star students are always being taken care of and challenged and respected and loved," Andres said.
Andres and the other teachers at Corvallis, including principal Knapp's husband, kept the award a secret until recently. They set up the school's winter assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 25 as an opportunity to celebrate Knapp with her students.
The student body, which consists of a little more than 460 kids, cheered her and held signs saying things like "all hail queen Knapp" and "congratulations Mrs. Knapp."
Andres says the teachers feel supported by Knapp, especially through the pandemic, virtual learning, and the difficult years that have followed.
"She cared for her teachers by giving us resources and ideas on how to transition to virtual learning overnight. She made videos to cheer us up when we were blue and helped us to celebrate our successes with shoutouts and kind words. She got creative and found ways to keep all of our 40 certified staff employed through the rest of the virtual school year so that they could continue to provide for their families," Andres wrote in the eight page application she submitted on Knapp's behalf.
In the application, Andres also described Knapp's dedication to safety and inclusion. Knapp knows every student's name and gives attention to each one of them.
"At our September staff meeting years ago she printed a list of every student’s name and each teacher had to mark if they felt like they were capable of seeing stress, sickness, or worry on each kid’s face," Andres wrote.
Knapp tries to involve the students with the community. For homecoming, the students participate in a parade down Main Street and paint team spirit on buildings around town.
Knapp says her favorite thing about being principal is being able to watch her students graduate and move on to the next steps of their lives, "It’s when I get to see the culmination of all of the hard work of all of the educators."
Knapp has four kids with one still in the Corvallis school system. She understands how important it is that kids have support at school, and she is happy to be a provider of that.
“I don’t think kids can do it on their own," she says. "I think it’s so important to have people to help guide them.”