Kristopher M. Vancas
Benner Elementary School
Bellefonte Area School District
In seven years as principal, Kristopher Vancas has focused on maintaining a positive, visible leadership presence while promoting academic excellence and strengthening community ties at Benner Elementary School. This focus has affected the school in significant ways. With Vancas at the helm, Benner Elementary received a Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics in 2013. PBIS-based data interventions and teams have been implemented, resulting in the ability for staff to monitor potential behavioral issues and implement immediate solutions. Differentiated instruction and responsive teaching methods have ensured that student scores remain high. The PBIS program has also resulted in the introduction of new student clubs like Mindfulness and Homework Club to address specific challenges faced by students. From posting fun, educational challenges to school updates, Vancas has successfully used social media videos as a tool to connect with students and families and build a sense of community at the school. This community-building ethos is also seen in monthly parent-child breakfasts, career education days with special guests from the community, and in the increase in parent and family participation in volunteering activities. Vancas has also served as the Homeless Liaison for the district, building a wide array of resources to assist families experiencing homelessness. Vancas is currently working toward his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and holds an M.Ed. Principal Certification from California University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.