New school year, new principal: John McKinney now at helm of Shawnee Mission East

When SM East freshmen arrived at school this morning, John McKinney was the principal who greeted them.
When SM East freshmen arrived at school this morning, John McKinney was the principal who greeted them.

Freshmen reported for school this morning at Shawnee Mission high schools and at 7:40 a.m. And John McKinney is the high school principal Shawnee Mission East freshmen will know for their careers.

McKinney has been at SM East for 13 years as both an English teacher and assistant principal. But today is his first day to welcome students in the principal’s role. McKinney was named in February to replace Dr. Karl Krawitz when he retired.  “I learned a lot from him,” McKinney says of Krawitz.

“I live in the community and my kids go to school in the community, I am thrilled to be given the ability to stay,” McKinney said. With two new associate principals also joining the SM East crew, McKinney doesn’t want to drop a lot of change on the school. “There is a lot I am still learning. I’m getting phone calls and e-mails that I have never seen before (as an associate).”

The change that will come this year relates to the start of Common Core standards and the associated testing changes. Schools will be required to focus more on students who have passed the assessments, moving them up the ladder, he says. “Curriculum and instruction, that’s an area where I feel comfortable,” McKinney says.

Another focus for McKinney this year, along with the new assessments, will be communicating the value of a SM East education to students in the attendance area who are not coming to East. “I think we meet or exceed” what a student can get elsewhere, McKinney says.

“A quality education is our product and I believe we have something special and unique at East.”