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New Roosevelt Principal Settling In

Robert Klinar took over as principal of Theodore Roosevelt High School this fall

To say Robert Klinar is a busy man would be an understatement.

The new principal's days start around 6:45 a.m. and are an endless stream of meetings, phone calls and student events. Combine a busy schedule with a 55-minute commute twice daily, and Klinar is lucky to get home by 9 p.m. some nights.

Still, he described his transition to as "incredibly smooth" thanks to a supportive faculty and staff.

"And I use the word incredibly because it's a testament to the people I'm working with," he said. "That always makes somebody in a leadership position make that transition just a little bit easier. The people here have made me feel so comfortable that it feels like I've been here longer than I have."

Klinar still calls Lake County home, where his wife teaches at, and his children attend, Perry Public Schools. They're not shopping for a Kent home — yet.

"I'm sort of the lonesome pole cat, so to speak," he said. "So I'm making the adjustments as much as I can. It's just not immediate right now, but eventually. We love the community ... it's something that we'll highly consider."

Not living in Kent, where parents might find a chance encounter with their child's principal at the grocery store, movie theater or festival, hasn't created a disconnect between Klinar and the school community. He makes up for the loss by attending as many student functions as possible, including games and performances. On nights like Tuesday, when the high school had soccer games, a volleyball match and a choir concert, it's not uncommon for Klinar to make it home by 9 p.m.

"We have probably more extracurricular activities and organizations than any other district I've ever worked in, so making myself available to everything is difficult," he said. "But at the same time, it's important."

That approach has helped the new principal develop a relationship and rapport with the students.

"I'd say that kids have gotten the impression from me since the beginning of the school year that they can come in here and ask me a question and not feel that I'm not approachable," he said. "I feel that I'm an approachable person. I'm out there in the cafeteria eating my sandwich, talking to the seniors about some of the stuff they've got going on."

Klinar, 46, from a position as assistant superintendent for the Riverside Local School District in Painesville. He's spent the past 23 years working in education, and the learning curve of moving to Kent wasn't as steep as his first move to the principal position.

"The learning curve hasn't been too bad because I've been a principal before," he said. "It's more so being accustomed to the culture of the building."

And it's that culture at Theodore Roosevelt that is one thing he's had to adapt to, but it also was a draw for him.

"That relationship piece is the one element that really attracted me to the district; one that is much different than any other place that I've been," he said. "You see the fact that there's a great deal of respect between the student and staff member. I see great interaction between staff and students, and I've never seen that anywhere else."

Another difference for Klinar that he's found at Kent is he likes to take his work home. Seeing that his wife is a teacher, talking shop at home is less an issue, he said.

"I leave here thinking that I've got to tell somebody about how things are going. That's how much I like it here," he said.

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