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DSU alumnus Knudson named SD Principal of the Year

November 4, 2022

Collin Knudson, the high school principal of Tea Area High School for the past 10 years, was recognized as 2022’s South Dakota Principal of the Year.

Knudson graduated from Dakota State in 2003 with a degree in Elementary Education. He later earned a Master of Arts in Educational Administration PK-12 Principal from the University of South Dakota.

He said his interest in education grew from a passion for working with kids and helping people while growing up.

“There were certain DSU staff members who helped instill a belief in myself, and I have had contact with them over the years.” He especially appreciated the mentors he found in Dr. Mark Hawkes and Dr. Wayne Pauli.

“While it was years ago, the technology component of my degree provided me flexibility in endorsements and abilities to teach many different grade levels and areas. It also allowed for leadership opportunities to train other teachers in various aspects of technology and enhance teaching with technology,” Knudson said.

After graduating from DSU, Knudson taught math, reading, and language arts at Flandreau Middle School. Three years later, he moved on to Tea Area and taught various areas, ultimately teaching high school computers.

A desire to help as many students as possible motivated Knudson to earn his graduate degree. “As a teacher, one is in a position to help all the students in the classroom. As a principal, one can help all the students in the building.”

Once he earned his master’s degree, he spent two years as the 7-12 principal of Kimball, prior to taking on his current position as the high school principal at Tea in 2013.

Knudson describes the first priority of a principal as ensuring the safety of the students, staff, and building.

“The next priority would be student achievement and working relentlessly for the success of each student in the building,” he said.

Additionally, an essential aspect of the position is to be an encourager, listener, advocate, and provide a team environment for support staff.

Knudson described being selected as S.D. Principal of the Year as a great feeling, “but an award like this is far from an individual award. The true recognition goes to the supportive community, school board, superintendent, staff, and students.”

He appreciates the other principals and administrators he’s learned from, like Chad Allison, Ryan Rollinger, and Dustin Degen, to name a few.

His advice to other educators and administrators is to take care of themselves and make time for family.

“There is no more noble profession, and you must remember that,” he said. “Be patient and understanding and focus on relationships and people.”

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