Photo courtesy of Greg Kroll
Principal Kroll worked as an assistant principal at Martin Sortun Elementary School for two years before becoming principal.

Photo courtesy of Greg Kroll Principal Kroll worked as an assistant principal at Martin Sortun Elementary School for two years before becoming principal.

Award-winning Martin Sortun Elementary School principal retires

  • By Bailey Jo Josie
  • Tuesday, July 5, 2022 1:19pm
  • News

After 21 years, Greg Kroll has retired from his award-winning role as principal at Martin Sortun Elementary School in Kent.

“The thing I got the kick out of was trying to keep learning fun,” said Kroll, whose hard work bringing fun into learning helped make Martin Sortun an award-winning school. With Kroll at the lead, the school began treating annual standardized tests like the Olympic games, complete with an opening day ceremony before the test and then a medal ceremony in the fall.

“It was high-stakes in the beginning days. The tests got more complicated and involved and it was miserable,” Kroll said, referring to the No Child Left Behind Act of the early millennium. “We kind of turned it on its head and we made it fun. We adopted the theme of the Olympics: Every Day is Training Day.”

In 2016, Martin Sortun was among the 100 schools throughout the country to receive the National Title I Distinguished School Award. Kroll considers it one of the school’s biggest accomplishments.

During Kroll’s tenure, the school has received several awards including three 2014 Washington Achievement Awards. Martin Sortun Elementary School won for overall excellence, math growth and reading growth.

“I think that’s the end result of a lot of work,” Kroll said.

The school was also named a Washington State School of Distinction in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“I really believe that when we have problems to solve, the people nearest to the problem, they have the solutions. So, you want to talk to them, listen to them and implement their ideas,” Kroll said. “There are so many workers having autonomy in their work, it’s transformative. When people bring ideas in, I would listen to them. The best ideas weren’t mine, they were others.”

Kroll himself has even won a few awards. In 2013, he was voted Best Principal in Western Washington, and in 2018, he was awarded Principal of the Year in the Kent School District.

After a dedicated 32-year career in education, Kroll looks forward to focusing on his family and friends. He will update and remodel his house, plan a backpacking trip, do volunteer work, and help his mother.

“This [work] takes a lot. You live your job, and it’s time to do the other things in life,” Kroll said. “My mother is aging and she needs more support and she needs more of my time.”

Before arriving at Martin Sortun in 2001, Kroll, 59, had worked as an elementary school teacher in the Puyallup School District for 11 years where he taught 4th, 5th and 6th grade. For two of his 21 years at Martin Sortun, Kroll had the role of assistant principal.

“The thing that stands out to me the most is the people, obviously. That’s why we get into the business, right? The people. I’m going to miss the kids, the staff, the families,” Kroll said.

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Principal Greg Kroll plans to do volunteer work in the community in his retirement. Photo courtesy of Greg Kroll.

Principal Greg Kroll plans to do volunteer work in the community in his retirement. Photo courtesy of Greg Kroll.

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