Royal Palm Beach native Crystal Amado Kucharski, previously an assistant principal at Royal Palm Beach High School, has been named the new principal at H.L. Johnson Elementary School — the same school she attended as a child.
Kucharski, who also attended Crestwood Middle School, began her career at Royal Palm Beach High School in 2006 as a teacher. She taught all levels of science from English as a Second Language (ESOL) to Advanced Placement in biology, environmental science and earth/space science. She also became the ESOL coordinator and coached women’s soccer at RPBHS.
Coming back to H.L. Johnson feels to Kucharski like she has come home.
“It feels like I belong here,” she said. “It’s surreal, and it’s an exciting feeling. I’m going to bring my son here next year.”
Kucharski and her husband Nick have a son who will turn 4 in June. She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership in 2011.
Kucharski’s appointment was approved by the Palm Beach County School Board on Jan. 13, but she has been at H.L. Johnson since Jan. 7 after working at RPBHS for 14 years.
“I was a science teacher,” she said. “I was also a department head for science, and then I was an ESOL coordinator before becoming an assistant principal.”
Kucharski said her experience sets her up perfectly to guide elementary students toward a successful secondary school experience.
“I’m really lucky because I grew up here, so I know how Royal Palm Beach is,” she said. “I’ve worked in this village. They try to do a K through 12 continuum, so I’ve been really lucky as an assistant principal to be able to work with the other schools.”
She noted that all the area schools have done events together.
“With a high school background, it’s almost like I’m backward mapping. I’ve seen the end result. Now I get to be on the front end of that. H.L. Johnson does a great job already of preparing students, but now I really get to see that piece of it and ensure that our students are doing all the things that they should be doing. I couldn’t be happier. I feel like I won a jackpot. It’s just amazing.”
Kucharski noted that when she applied for the principal’s job, she knew that the former principal, Jennifer Makowski, was retiring. Kucharski included a picture of herself and her mother at her first day at school at H.L. Johnson.
“I was looking at pictures of when I was younger, and I had my first day at school picture with my mom outside H.L. Johnson, so I sent that,” she said. “I was hoping that I got H.L. Johnson, and I did.”