Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer was chosen as the 2012 Principal of the Year for the Hemet School District. Photo by J.P. Crurmrine
With nearly two dozens schools within Hemet Unified School District, ranging from traditional elementary, middle and high schools to alternative schools such as the Western Academy, the district has many principals that could be considered each year for special recognition.

This year, 2012, the district’s principal of the year is Idyllwild School’s Matt Kraemer. He will be recommended to the Riverside County Office of Education for Principal of the Year countywide.

The district’s superintendent and cabinet of assistant superintendents make the decision, said Deputy Superintendent Dr. LaFaye Platter.

“He made a great contribution,” she said, explaining the choice. “The school’s test scores continued to increase for the past couple of years. Idyllwild was already a high-achieving school and it’s still continuing to grow.

“He also has a good relationship with the community and with the parents and kids,” Platter said.

Kraemer himself was very surprised when he was notified of his honor. This was the first time he’s been recognized at the district level, he said.

“It feels great,” he said.

Beginning his fifth year at Idyllwild School, Kraemer was the one greeting the parents and new students at the door in August 2008. He was following the popular Dr. Emily Shaw as principal. That was his 11th year with Hemet Unified School District.

Kraemer’s hiring was an accident. He was bringing a friend west for an interview. Kraemer, working in Yuma, Ariz., went for the ride with no intention of moving.

After his friend’s interview, as they prepared to leave Hamilton School, the principal asked Kraemer if he were interested in a Language Arts teaching position.

“He suggested I speak to a district official about an assistant principal position that was being filled. Well, the salaries here were better than Yuma, so I talked to him,” Kraemer said.

His HUSD career began splitting time between Fruitvale and Whittier schools. After three years at Whittier, he became principal at Little Lake, his assignment before Idyllwild.