- Cleburne Independent School District
Cooke AP Crystal Kampen Named Incoming Principal for Wheat MS
Crystal Kampen is returning to Wheat Middle School, where she was twice honored as Teacher of the Year, as the new campus principal.
Kampen, who has been serving as the assistant principal at C.C. Cooke Elementary since the fall of 2017, has been approved by Trustees to fill the vacancy created by the promotion of WMS principal Suzie Keesee to Director of Alternative Education. Both Kampen and Keesee will remain in their current posts until the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Keesee is very excited to see a former “Wheatie” moving into the principal’s office upon her departure. Kampen was a member of the WMS faculty from 2011 to the spring of 2017.
“Crystal came to Wheat a couple of days before the school year was about to start,” Keesee said. “She had never taught before. As a first-year teacher in eighth grade science, she jumped in and quickly built relationships with students, staff and parents. She has been a true asset to CISD and has continued to grow as an educator and an amazing administrator.”
“I am so thankful that she will be taking over Wheat,” Keesee said. “She will continue to grow the school and continue the great things that are going on at our campus. We always say, ‘once a Wheatie, always a Wheatie.’ Now she’s coming back home to continue our mission of helping kids be successful in all aspects of life. I am so proud of her.”
Kampen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Tarleton State University. Her Master’s Degree in education administration is from Lamar University. As a teacher at Wheat, she also served as chairman of the science department and has served as secondary summer school principal.
As the 2017 CISD Secondary Teacher of the Year, her essay on why she chose to become an educator was among the award-winning entries in the Region 11 Teacher of the Year competition.
“I want to make all students aware of their potential and their options in education, and their future,” Kampen said. “They are not what statistics say they are; what people say they will amount to and are not limited by their situation. My goal is to instill in each student that they are not defined by their past, a learning disability, skin color, economic status or a standardized test score. Our students deserve that confidence to say, ‘I define me.’ “
“For young lives, sometimes it only takes that one person to impact and empower their desire to push through their obstacles and achieve the unachievable,” Kampen said. “Later in life, my students may not remember how to read a topographical map or interpret the arrangement of the periodic table, but they will remember my name. They will remember me by my compassion, empathy and unwillingness to give up on them. I absolutely love my job. It’s challenging, but my days, and my students, are happier because I chose to give them a piece of my heart—instead of a piece of my mind.”
Jake Walker, principal of Cooke Elementary and her administrative teammate for four years, says Kampen is definitely ready for a campus of her own.
“In her four years at Cooke I have been able to witness her growth as an educator and administrator,” he said. “She does a great job building relationships. She is a true instructional leader on our campus and has a servant’s heart in being there for our staff, our students and their families.”
“Crystal is uniquely suited to be a leader at Wheat because of her time there as a teacher,” Walker said. “She will be going back to Wheat with an understanding of the elementary student’s journey in getting to middle school because of her time at Cooke. Her experiences at both these levels will make her effective in helping students on their journey to the next level--high school.”
With Cooke being a feeder school to Wheat, he is excited for his fifth grade Wildcats who will have a familiar face in the principal’s office next year.
“We always wonder—and worry—about our kids when they move into middle school,” Walker said. “We hope they are doing well and continuing to succeed. We know with Mrs. Kampen going to Wheat, the bond between our two campuses will grow even stronger. We are sad to see her go, but we are also very happy for her. She has certainly helped me—and helped me be successful--in my role as a pretty new principal.”