by AMY LEHRER | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Taking a chance led to an amazing career for Brian Köhn, Principal of Canyon Crest Academy. Originally a conductor of various ensembles in the United States and Mexico and a private music instructor, he entered public education on a whim, applying for a job at Coronado High School as a music teacher despite having no public education interest and no teaching credential. Learning that his wife was pregnant with their first child made his choice to shift from an uncertain life as a musician to that of an educator easier, and he soon recognized that teaching was his gift.

Later, Köhn joined a SDUHSD task force made up of visionary leaders to define the characteristics of a new high school, one that families would be willing to take a chance on in a district already filled with successful schools. Canyon Crest Academy emerged, a school with a strong visual and performing arts component that makes extensive use of technology and offers a 4×4 schedule.

“Being forced to do more with less money each year teaches us to work smarter.”~ Brian Köhn Principal of Canyon Crest Academy

Working with people, both students and staff, inspires Köhn. Teachers in his past helped him find his path, and he hopes his words and actions empower others also. “There is such amazing talent among CCA staff members,” said Köhn. “I feel it is my job to support those talents and encourage teachers to dream big.”

Constantly needing to adapt to remain relevant in our ever changing world both excites and challenges Köhn. While being forced to do more with less money each year teaches us to work smarter, “We are extremely lucky,” Köhn said, “to have such a highly effective parent foundation. Because of their good work, we have been able to compensate entirely or at least greatly minimize the effects of less government funding.”

Away from school, Köhn has a rewarding personal life. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Lana, a CCA alumnus and current student at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, his son Alex, a current junior at Scripps Ranch High School, and his wife Lydia of 27 years. “She is the love of my life and the life force of our family.” Further, he roots for the Padres, pilots a plane, travels, attends concerts, and plans to drive with his son this summer to Dead Horse Alaska, the farthest point north one can drive in North America; a fitting reward for someone who likes to support big dreams.