Joshua Knudson: Much More than a Suit and a Tie


Photo Courtesy of Joshua Knudson

Joshua Knudson, Assistant Principal, brings a unique perspective to Burlingame High School.

Elise Spenner, Staff Reporter

In an entertaining anecdote, Joshua Knudson, the new assistant principal at Burlingame High School, compared our bizarre situation to “The Twilight Zone.” 

“I’m working at a high school, but I don’t know any high schoolers,” Knudson said. “I like the staff, the team and the teachers, but I miss the students.”

However, for Knudson, new and unorthodox scenarios like this are an opportunity to learn and grow. After teaching in Santa Cruz County, he moved 4,500 miles away to Lima, Peru ––a city of almost 10 million people. 

“I wanted to experience something other than the United States,” Knudson said. “I was really intrigued by Peru for one, the surfing, and for two, the deep cultural connection with Inca civilization.”

From there, Knudson left bustling urban life to seek out the famous “Pura Vida” lifestyle of stress-free interaction, working at a school in tropical Costa Rica. 

“It really gave me the perspective, especially being a white male, of being an outsider, of being a language learner, and being subject to cultures different from my own,” Knudson said. “The world is very different, but we are similar in so many ways. I think our similarities outweigh our differences.”

Knudson moved back to the Bay Area two years ago. After teaching at Oceania High School in Pacifica, he transferred to Burlingame High School. 

“I wanted to be in a school where the high school was the center and the heartbeat of the community,” Knudson said. 

This ideal is challenged by the pandemic that yearns to separate and isolate. So far, Knudson regrets the lack of interaction between students and staff. But during a time of instability, Knudson believes that he brings an essential trait to the table. 

“Empathy,” Knudson said. “Here, the academics and sports are strong already. I want to bring the community together. And I care. It’s something I am passionate about. I know that every kid matters.”

In the world of remote learning, Knudson may seem like a distant, uninvolved figure. And although he didn’t go through high school in the midst of a pandemic, he assures students that he remembers being a teenager like it was yesterday. 

“I’m young at heart,” Knudson said. “I’m not a stuffy guy in a coat and a tie. When it’s time to be serious, I can be serious. But mostly, I like to get to know people and build friendships. I hope students can see me as a friend.”