John Kalny, Skyview Elementary’s principal for three years, is preparing for what he says is the opportunity of his lifetime – getting to open and head a science-based school.
Kalny, who left Skyview last spring, will start this school year as the principal of RISD’s new Math/Science/Technology Magnet School, 707 E. Arapaho.
He has been a key player in getting two new magnet schools open in RISD, the technology magnet and a classical magnet at 701 Belt Line. These schools open for the 1995/96 school year to help relieve overcrowding at Skyview, Aikin and Dover elementaries.
“This is a beginning,” Kalny says. “If this works, I can see a number of magnet schools open.
“I get a thrill thinking of the possibilities. It’s going to be great for the kids.”
Science has been a love of Kalny’s since his high school biology class, he says.
An educator now for 26 years, Kalny planned on being a doctor when he attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he carried a double major in biology and sociology.
The summer before his senior year, he realized he loved teaching children.
He was involved with children as a Sunday school teacher and swim coach. He dropped his premed focus to pursue his teaching certificate, which required him to carry an extra class load his final year and attend summer school.
“The hours, work requirement and cost of medical school was not in my future,” Kalny says. “I wanted to teach science.”
“I’d always been involved with kids. I like their enthusiasm, their willingness to learn, their openness.”
Kalny has been with RISD 15 years.
His first RISD job was teaching science at Lake Highlands High School, where he also coached swimming. He was a competitive swimmer from age 9 until he finished college.
He was the assistant principal for Lake Highlands Junior High, and the principal at White Rock Elementary.
He and his wife, Sue live near Berkner High School with son Trey, who recently finished fourth grade. They moved out of Lake Highlands four years ago when Sue received a job as Berkner’s assistant principal.
Kalny also has a son, John, and daughter, Heather, from a previous marriage. John will attend the University of Oregon in the fall, and Heather attends the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Outside of school, Kalny coaches Trey’s baseball team, the Brewers of the Spring Valley Athletic Association.
“I don’t know if I have a natural talent or if it has developed, but I’ve always been comfortable with kids,” Kalny says. “They have kept me young and on my toes.
“The biggest thrill I get working with kids is seeing them accomplish something they didn’t think they could accomplish.”
Kalny worked full-time this summer supervising construction of the technology magnet. He says he will miss Skyview and its students, but is happy with what he has accomplished.
He and his staff have worked to reduce mobility and overcrowding at Skyview in order to bring homeowners back who have sent their children to private schools or who have requested transfers to other RISD schools, Kalny says.
“We are getting Skyview on a level playing field with the rest of the district,” Kalny says. “I have mixed emotions about leaving. I’d like to be sitting here to see the fruition of the last three years of work.”
Mary Ann Schwab will take Kalny’s place as principal at Skyview. Schwab was the school’s assistant principal last year.