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New principal for Knickrehm teaches hearts and minds

New principal for Knickrehm teaches hearts and minds

Opal Bentley

Opal Bentley

To say Opal Bentley is an experienced educator would be an understatement.

The new Knickrehm Elementary School principal started out as a parent volunteer and, with the encouragement and support of a special administrator, she amassed a variety of experiences.

“What got me into education were my own children,” Bentley said.

Volunteering was a way to get involved in her sons’ school, Soaring Eagles Academy in Colorado, she said. The principal at Soaring Eagles Academy saw her potential and encouraged her to keep moving forward, first as a paraeducator and continuing their support for and encouragement of her every step of her career.

“At that same school I went from volunteer to para to teacher to assistant principal,” Bentley said.

In August, she will take on her newest role: principal of Knickrehm Elementary School.

“Knickrehm is this great community; the teachers have a great history with the school. I’m excited to join the community’s fun traditions — and day-to-day fun,” Bentley said.

Traditions were a big part of her motivation to become Knickrehm’s next principal, she noted, including a staff with an exceptional history with the school.

Bentley will be taking the reins from current Principal Rob Bishop, who will transition to a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) positive support coordinator position with Grand Island Public Schools next year.

Bentley herself is passionate about the benefits of implementing MTSS.

“There are lots of things changing in education,” she said. “I was learning about (MTSS) in Colorado and saw how much it makes students grow as individuals.”

Bentley said MTSS practices fit in perfectly with GIPS’ mission of “Every Student, Every Day, A Success!”

“In educating students, we teach hearts as well as minds,” she said. “They’re already doing so many things like that (at Knickrehm).”

Bentley has been with GIPS since January as student success liaison at Starr Elementary School.

“In a short period of time with GIPS, Mrs. Bentley has had a profound impact on students,” Superintendent Tawana Grover said. “I am excited to see how Opal elevates Knickrehm moving forward.”

Bentley said pursuing the principal position at Knickrehm — which is more than 200 students strong — felt right.

“This was kind of the next step: to bring (MTSS) to another school,” she said.

Bentley and her husband moved from Colorado Springs to Grand Island to be closer to family.

She is a Cozad graduate and she met her husband in Cozad. She said she is looking forward to joining the Knickrehm family.

“I am so excited to become a part of the Knickrehm community and work with the amazing people and families,” Bentley said.

Jessica Votipka is the education reporter at the Grand Island Independent. She can be reached at 308-381-5420.

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