After officially being named principal at Johnnycake Elementary during last week's Baltimore County Board of Education meeting, Bre Fortkamp is kicking her school year preparations into high gear, and doing it while six months pregnant.
The rookie principal, a Baltimore City resident, had spent the past two years as assistant principal at Johnnycake and was acting principal at the school this summer.
She and her husband, Ben, are expecting their first child in November.
She said she is up to the challenge of her new role.
"I do well with a lot of things on my plate," Fortkamp said. "Things have a way of working out and this is just the way things happened."
Fortkamp is a product of Baltimore County public schools — having attended Riderwood Elementary, Dumbarton Middle and Towson High, all in Towson — and has spent the past 15 years teaching in the county.
After graduating from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a minor in special education, Fortkamp spent five years teaching at Scotts Branch Elementary in Milford Mill, then five years as a first-grade teacher at Perry Hall Elementary.
She spent three years in the county Office of Special Education as a resource teacher, where she worked with half of the 26 elementary schools in the southwest area of the county.
"I was working primarily with special ed teachers, working as a mentor to them," the 37-year-old said. "I feel like the southwest is kind of like my home.
"I loved that job, but I worked more with the teachers and the administration and I really miss[ed] that day-to-day interaction with the students and I missed having one place to call home," she said.
It was then that Fortkamp decided to pursue a career path in administration. She was named assistant principal at Johnnycake Elementary two years ago.
She worked with former principal Lynne Palmer, now principal at Reisterstown Elementary, and former assistant principal Stephen Price, now principal at Landsowne Elementary, to build rapport between the school administration and the community.
"It's been a really great experience the past two years," Fortkamp said. "We have a lot of involved parents and caring parents.
"That's something that I'm really excited about stepping up into the principal role, because I feel like I know the community and I know a good number of the parents," she said. "And I can just continue to build on that relationship with the parents."
On Wednesday, Fortkamp said she was excited to see the students back in the building this week.
Though she plans to take 12 weeks of maternity leave this winter, Fortkamp said her absence would not interfere with the school year's flow.
"I feel very comfortable that the things we've started will continue," she said. "We'll have things in place. When I go out, there will be a substitute.
"I feel like sometimes that's just the way things work out. The opportunity presented itself and I wanted to take it," she said on the chance to take over as principal. "I love it here at Johnnycake and I couldn't imagine it anywhere else."