Moab Happenings Archive
Moab Happenings Archive
Robert Farnsworth, a member of the Grand County High Class of 1988, is just getting settled in his new job as principal of Helen M. Knight Intermediate School in Moab.
is a fifth-generation Moabite, descended from settlers that arrived in the valley in the mid-1880s.
father, Doug, is from Beaver, Utah, but his
mother Vilate (Class of 1956) also graduated from GCHS
, as did her
Vilate grew up in the old Holyoak farmstead home, the historic building just east of Grand County High School
that is now occupied by the Youth Garden Project.
is the fifth of seven children, all of whom graduated from GCHS
Three of the Farnsworth siblings (Cindy, Jimmy, and Robert) still live in Moab
, as do parents Doug and Vilate.
Following his high school graduation, Robert attended Brigham Young University in Provo for a year before completing a two-year LDS mission in the Sacramento area.
returned to BYU
in 1991, he
future wife Celeste, the sister of one of his
and Celeste were married in June of 1992.
They have four children -- one son and three daughters.
Taylor, 14, is a freshman at GCHS
, where he
plays on the JV football team.
Becca, 11, and Lindsay, 9, are both students at HMK (in the 6th and 4th grades, respectively).
Youngest child Eliza, 6, is starting 1st grade at Red Rock Elementary.
Celeste works as an appointment scheduler for Moab Dental Health Center
began teaching math at GCMS in August of 1997.
spent the 1998-99 year teaching at the high school, then went back to teaching math at the middle school for eight more years until landing the principal job at HMK earlier this year.
"It's exciting, and a different challenge altogether," says Robert
"When the bell rang that first day, it felt weird not being in a classroom."
didn't actually attend school in the HMK building while growing up.
Back then, HMK and Red Rock Elementary (then called Southeast Elementary) were both K-5 schools, and Robert attended Southeast.
Back then, grades 6-8 attended the middle school, and 9-12 went to the high school, which was located in the current middle school building.
"I actually taught math in my (old) English classroom," Robert
has many fond memories of his
middle and high school teachers.
"There were so many good ones, I'm afraid to drop any names," he
said before listing a few of his
memorable teachers, including math teacher Gene Leonard (who had also taught Robert
's mom back in the 1950s), and Jim Nissen, who taught Robert in band throughout all seven years of middle and high school.
also had several teachers whom he
later ended up working alongside as colleagues, including wood shop teacher Ed Welling.
"It was also strange for me to take driver's ed from Mr. [Ron] Pierce, only to take over the program from him years later," Robert
taught driver's ed for 10 years, Robert
has now given up that extra position.
Robert also remembers current GCMS teacher Carol Stephenson as being the person who helped him learn how to open his locker in high school.
Another current GCMS teacher, Mike Arehart, was president of the school board when Robert attended high school.
participated in various sports and activities during high school, including two years of tennis, three of basketball, and one of golf.
played trumpet and tuba in the school band.
"But I really was more interested in academics," he
said, noting that his
favorite classes were math and wood shop.
Both Robert and Celeste graduated with bachelor's degrees from BYU
After earning his master's degree in 1998, Robert pursued his school administrator's certificate for several years, earning it from Utah State University in 2005.
noted that he
and current GCHS principal Stephen Hren (another teacher newly turned principal) were both in the same USU program at the same time.
spent much of this summer at the HMK building, getting acclimated to his
new surroundings, and to the teachers and staff who work at the building.
"I have an extremely terrific staff at HMK," noted Robert
"They're very professional and very patient."
spare time, Robert
family enjoy spending time in the outdoors, and playing and watching sports.
says that even though the Moab area may be relatively small, its schools have much to offer.
"I really like the many opportunities that our schools have for the kids in our community," he
noted, citing the award-winning GCHS debate team as one of several notable examples.