Principal Frank McKnight counts his financial background as an asset to successfully running the business that is any school building, which means the staff, students and families of Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) Pickering Campus in Phoenixville are guaranteed to be happy customers this school year. McKnight joins the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) from Springfield School District, where he most recently served four years as principal of Springfield High School.
“After meeting many of the families at our Getting Connected picnic in July, I am extremely excited about the upcoming school year,” said McKnight, who impressed picnic attendees with his valiant pie-eating contest attempt. Despite the layer of whipped cream and blueberries, McKnight says he was pleased to observe that not only do teachers and staff care greatly about their programs, the students and parents also have a genuine love for the school. “My hope is to more closely assess the school culture, build upon it, improve it and make the TCHS Pickering Campus among the best educational institutions in the country.”
McKnight began his 19-year career in education after working in the accounting field. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Widener University and crunched numbers as an accountant for the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS). Soon after, McKnight tried his hand at teaching for the first time as an instructor for the American Institute of Banking. He loved it so much that, coupled with his experiences as a grade school football and basketball coach, McKnight decided that education was the career for him. He had been on the cusp of beginning an MBA program at Widener, and immediately shifted over to a master’s degree in education instead.
“I realized how much I enjoyed that moment when a students just ‘gets it,’” he said. “The satisfaction of knowing that I successfully imparted knowledge is one of the best feelings in the world.” After a few years teaching, McKnight chose to put his management background to good use as a building administrator. He served as E.T. Richardson Middle School principal for eight years, before leading Springfield High School for four years.
“Principal McKnight has extensive educational experience and worked in the business sector before coming into education,” said Dr. Kirk Williard, director of the CCIU’s division of career, technical and customized education. “This combination of skills and experiences will be an asset as he works with the students and staff to set the vision and course of implementation to move the current and new programs forward.”
Among these new programs is the partnership with Delaware County Community College (DCCC), which will begin offering late afternoon and evening classes at TCHS Pickering this fall. The College also offers classes at the TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus in West Grove and the Brandywine Campus in Downingtown. High school students will have the opportunity to enroll in college-level coursework at reduced rates while completing high school curriculum, jumpstarting their post-secondary education and saving money along the way.
According to McKnight, his guiding principle is to continually ask himself “if this were my child, what would I want?” It is a question he will also encourage his teachers to consider.
“The decisions of a school principal impact a large number of students and families,” explained McKnight. “I strive to always make common sense decisions in the best interest of those that I serve and that is why I love being a principal.”
In addition to his day job as school principal, McKnight is currently earning his doctorate in education at Neumann University. Of the career and technical programs at TCHS Pickering, McKnight says he most wishes he possessed the skills of a carpenter. “Their ability to think and see things abstractly has always impressed me,” he said. “Practically speaking, I’d also like to be an auto mechanic so I could fix my own car.”
Perhaps the students in the Carpentry and Automotive Service Technology programs, among others, will have a thing or two to teach their new principal this school year.
A Technical College High School is a career and technical school of choice for students in grades 9 through 12. Applications are currently being accepted for the Brandywine Campus in Downingtown, the Pennock’s Bridge Campus in West Grove and the Pickering Campus in Phoenixville. Interested students can learn more and apply online by visiting www.technicalcollegehighschool.org.