For the first time in a long time, Key Peninsula Middle School will have a new principal at the helm.
The Peninsula School District announced in April that KPMS Assistant Principal Luke Grunberg will step into the role as principal at the start of the 2023-24 school year. Grunberg replaces Jeri Goebel, who is retiring later this month after a nearly 30-year career in education, the last 14 as the school’s principal.
Grunberg only needed one year in the assistant role to prove he was the right person for the job. He spent the previous 18 years in various teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, athletic director and coaching roles in the Bremerton and North Mason school districts. He’ll take over what is effectively a new building after a two-year remodel of KPMS wraps up this summer.
“This feels like the right step for me and the school,” Grunberg said. “It offers some consistency for these students.”
The assistant principal position at the school has been a bit of a revolving-door and the school will now be looking for its fourth in four years. Grunberg says he expects to hire his replacement by June.
Middle school principals tend to focus more on working with families, teachers and staff, while the assistant principal is more student-oriented. But Grunberg, who said he spent the last year building relationships with all parties, still plans to be student-focused.
“Families would acknowledge I’m kid-centered,” he said. “It’s my priority that our kids are first, and we have to listen to the student voice. I’ve taken pride in being present and engaged with our students.”
A change in leadership usually means a change in philosophy, and quite possibly a change in culture. Grunberg says he’ll do a bit of rebranding and there will be an emphasis on instructional leadership. He wants to develop among the school’s teachers and staff “accountability to our academic, behavioral and social-emotional commitments.” He also plans to do more education for staff and students around harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Grunberg, who lives in Gig Harbor, has roots in the school district. He went to Goodman Middle School and is a Gig Harbor High School graduate. He has a daughter who is finishing up fourth grade at Pioneer Elementary and a son in sixth grade at Harbor Ridge Middle School, where his wife is a math teacher.
He is already working with his team to get the school ready for the new school year, which starts Sept. 5.
“Equity will be the foundation of all we do to ensure that all students have the opportunities they need to be successful,” Grunberg said. “I’ve made a point to advocate for our school to get our students the same opportunities as their middle school peers throughout the district.”
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