LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Chris Koek

Position: Assistant Principal
School: Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School
School District: Duval County Public Schools
City, State: Atlantic Beach, FL

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Chris Koek was nominated by Danielle Willis, the parent of a student.

Willis' son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5, and he struggles with impulsivity, attentiveness, forgetfulness, and more. She was worried he would get in trouble and not be able to meet the standard expectations. Like any mother, Willis wanted to protect her son and make sure he was successful. 

"I was absolutely petrified of middle school for him," Willis said. "When my son started in the 6th grade, I went in blind, wondering if I should call a meeting with all staff to explain my child or just wait and see what happens. I was at work and we made it through the first week without a single phone call from the school. The next week, I called a meeting with the staff and I was petrified. I was scared they would think I was making excuses for him."

"So, there I was in a room with all his teachers, his IEP manager and Mr. Koek," Willis continued. "I talked about my concerns and gave them the tools we used at home and elementary school that worked. Mr. Koek took me into his office, sat me down and assured me it was going to be okay. We arranged his schedule with teachers my son would relate to, teachers who would be able to keep him on track."

Mr. Koek stays on top of Willis' son and ensures he is doing what is expected of him. He is extremely understanding of her son's disabilities and understands that her son wants to succeed, but has a hard time controlling his ADHD. Not only does Mr. Koek keep a close eye on Willis' son, but he also gives every student the opportunity to be successful. He listens to all students and lets them know that their opinions matter.

"I am not sure where we would be without Mr. Koek and his determination to see my son excel," Willis said. "I cannot think of a more important person to receive this award, as he totally deserves it and then some. He truly is a one of a kind educator and I am so thankful him and my son's paths crossed. I think it's important to recognize this awesome man as an educator within the Duval County School System!"

Comments (25)

Linda Bishop Posted over a year ago

Everything said about Mr. Koek is true and then some. It is so easy to work with Mr. Koek and he has always operated from the heart, even before it was in vogue.

Holly Engelbrecht Posted over a year ago

Mr. Koek is awesome and definately deserves this award for everything he does for his students. I have had my 3rd child start at Mayport Middle school this year and one graduate 8th grade last year.

Katrina hall Posted over a year ago

My friend's middle school son has had some really tough experiences in school. Mr. Koek had made a tremendous positive impact on this child and countless others.

Mayor Ellen Glasser Posted over a year ago

Chris Koek IS a life changer, which is why he is so deserving of this recognition. Not one to seek attention, he is a fantastic role model, educator, and mentor. The students at Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School not only look up to him and respect him, but they can see potential in their own lives through him. Thanks for considering him!

Griff and Tracy Machinski Posted over a year ago

We have been beyond blessed with the influence Mr. Koek has had in our daughter's middle school journey. Our child has unique health issues that impact her education. Mr. Koek is extremely compassionate, works diligently to meet the individual needs of each child, and leads with wisdom and discernment. He goes above and beyond to do what is in each student's best interest, and acts as the bridge between our daughter's teaching team and us. He is responsive to parent questions & concerns. Most importantly, Mr. Koek embraces the differences in every student, and passionately works with them for their individual success. He is a difference maker, and a life changer!

Karin Ebuen Posted over a year ago

I am so pleased that Mr. Koek has been nominated for this award. This will be my family's fifth year at Mayport Middle School, and Mr. Koek has been consistently available, helpful, and caring in regards to my sons and their education. He has always treated me and my children with respect and consideration. He is truly deserving of this award.

Katrina McCray Posted over a year ago

Chris Koek is the most caring and dedicated leader I have had the honor to work alongside for 12 years. He is my first go to person for solving students’ academic and social needs. He is truly deserving of the Life Changer award.

Susie Somday Posted over a year ago

Chris Koek has led Mayport Middle with honesty and compassion for the last four years. His door is always open and willing to listen to anyone who needs to talk to him. He has helped me with guidance both for my students and myself as an educator.

Soraya orr Posted over a year ago

Genuine, compassionate, and empathetic, these ares just some of the words I use to describe Mr. Koek. He is a phenomenal administrator who is always willing to stop and listen. While working with Mr. Koek and I have witnessed his dedication not only to the students and families of Mayport, but to all of Duval County. Mr. Koek, thank you for the support the encouragement that you have shown me this year!

Andrea Patton Posted over a year ago

Mr. Joel is not just an amazing resource for the kids, he helps the parents too! He reminds us all that whatever the goal is, once identified it is achievable. Steady as a rock and so deserving of this award!

Beth Cottrell Posted over a year ago

I am the mom of two kids who have gone to Mayport and I agree with all of these comments. Mr. Koek is just the kind of administrator that we need in all of our schools - organized, responsive, kind and respectful.

Delroy Wright Posted over a year ago

I have worked in Duval County for 31 years. Mr. Koek is one of the best administrators I have ever worked with. Mr. Koek is honest about everything, and nothing is ever "suger coated". I like that !

Xavier Willis Posted over a year ago

Hi I’m Danielle’s son I would like to thank Mr.Koek because he always made sure I always was doing what needed to be done he’s the best assistant principal!

Katelyn Hunter Posted over a year ago

Being an administrator comes with its fair share of challenges, however, Mr. Koek is the true embodiment of patience and drive as he tackles each day. His amicable leadership creates a positive environment for all those around him.

Heather Wakefield Posted over a year ago

Despite the many distractions that come towards administration on a daily basis, Mr. Koek has always managed to be truly present and available to assist and guide staff members to achieve their true potential in order for them to best benefit the students. His encouragement helps boost the morale of all within the school and helps create a culture where students, parents and staff feel cared for.

Tami Lipson Posted over a year ago

I originally met Mr. Koek when my oldest entered 6th grade at Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School. I was excited to volunteer and began working with Chris as the Magnet Tour Guide. All 4 of my children attended and graduated from Mayport and Mr. Koek was a fantastic resource for me and teacher for my children throughout their middle school years. I am now a 7th grade Language Arts teacher at Mayport and Mr. Koek has been a wealth of information for me as i navigate my first years of teaching middle school. His willingness to take time to talk and listen when you are needing support and guidance is a true blessing.

Patricia Posted over a year ago

I am proud to work with this leader. Well done!

John Louis Meeks, Jr. Posted over a year ago

Mr. Koek is an educational leader who leads with wisdom and compassion. He has inspired me with his firmness, fairness, and friendliness. We are fortunate to have him at our school!

Gwendolyn Gill Posted over a year ago

I have two words to say: Simply Awesome !

Cheryl Ryner, DEC Posted over a year ago

I am a new employee of Duval County Public Schools, presently working with Mr. Koek, Assistant Principal, Curriculum. Oh my Gosh, the sweetest, most compassionate, caring individual I have ever met. Always willing to help in every way he possibly can. I am being trained by him and I have learned tremendously under his supervision; he deserves this award, no doubt about it. Mr. Koek has a giant heart and is always willing to teach me something new. I am like a sponge taking in everything he is putting out because they are valuable. May God Bless Mr. Chris Koek; he helps the students, interact with them, work with them and they respects and listens to him. I pray that God give me the opportunity to continue working with Mr. Koek. Thank you.

Kim Taylor Posted over a year ago

I also have the pleasure of having a child at this school as well as working with Mr. Koek and am able to see every day the differences that he makes in individual lives. He treats every child with the concern, care and respect that he would show to his own children. We are very blessed to have him at our school.

Jennifer Nagy Posted over a year ago

I second Mrs. Willis' claim that Mr. Koek is an amazing administrator who does his all to ensure the success of each and every student and to ease the mind of every parent and employee who brings a concern his way. I work as a teacher at this school, and my son is a student there. I have brought concerns and issues to Mr. Koek as a teacher as well as a parent, and he has handled each with patience and expertise. Mr. Koek is definitely a huge part of what makes Mayport so successful!

Donyale Posted over a year ago

Awesome leader and educator who truly cares about students.

Grace Young Posted over a year ago

Mr. Koek was my 6th grade math teacher way back when. I am currently a junior in college and have always thought my years in school he has been the best teacher. If anyone deserves this award it’s Mr. Koek! He has always cared so much about helping students succeed, and making learning not so boring. When I had his class I realized I wanted more teachers like him because he was always so understanding and helpful. I never liked math and was terrible at it, but Mr. koek showed me different ways of learning to help me grow as a student. Still today if we bump into each other at a random place, he still remembers me and always asks how I am doing. Anyone who knows Mr. koek knows he deserves this award more than anything and I was very lucky to have him as a teacher.

Danielle Posted over a year ago

He goes above and beyond for all students