Why were you interested in becoming an elementary principal in the Novi Community School District?
I have a somewhat unique career history, as I served for eleven years as an elementary principal in South Lyon, and then returned to the classroom to teach in the district’s magnet program for academically talented students for seven years. When this principal position in Novi was posted, it was a great opportunity to revive my passion for leadership! I love to learn, and I’m so excited to learn more in one of the top school districts in Michigan, especially at a time in which there is so much new energy coming to the district. Novi’s excellent reputation, high standards, diversity, and close proximity to my home were what propelled me to this next chapter of my career.
What are some general goals or a vision you have for your first year in your new role?
My first priority is establishing relationships with my students, staff, and the Parkview community. I firmly believe that elementary schools are about people first and foremost, and continuing the welcoming, positive culture that has been established by Dr. Carino and the Parkview staff is of utmost importance to me. Being new to the Novi district, I have much to learn about all aspects of its operations and history. I’m excited to begin my career here at the same time as Ben Mainka assumes his role as superintendent, along with Dr. Carino and Mr. Giromini in their assistant superintendent positions. What a unique environment to put our heads together and do great things for our students and the community!
What would you like to share about your leadership style?
I hope to be a servant leader, by building a supportive community environment and leading with integrity. Our ultimate goal is to enable students to succeed, and that includes academic, social, and emotional growth. In order to do that, I have the responsibility to meet the needs of the members of my community, and not to simply set my own goals. I strive to be an educator who collaborates and who looks to build the skills of others, as I hope I will be able to learn from others, as well!
What do you love about public education?
America’s founding fathers established public education because they believed it was instrumental to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Education is the backbone of our democracy, as our students become adult citizens who need to make informed decisions. Therefore, public education not only improves the chances of students having successful adult lives, but it also impacts society as a whole. And that begins with our youngest students in elementary school! Beyond those noble reasons to support public education, I love that we can spend our days as elementary educators with the sweet, eager children who come to us from so many places and walks of life. They make me appreciate the diversity and wonders of this world each and every day!
How has your journey in public education prepared you for this opportunity?
After graduating from the University of Michigan, I took my first teaching position in South Lyon at Sayre Elementary School. I taught 4th and 5th grades, and I jumped at every opportunity to learn and lead. I was my school’s 504 coordinator, leader of our school improvement process, on a district committee to develop a new standards-based report card, and I participated in a variety of professional development. Those opportunities inspired me to pursue my graduate degree in Educational Leadership at Eastern Michigan University. In 2002, I was honored to receive the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which is given to two educators from each state annually. When the principal of Sayre, Dr. Wally Herrala, retired in 2004, I was thrilled to take over his role. I served as principal of Sayre for eleven years. During that time, I was blessed to have three children of my own. When an opening for the district’s magnet classroom teacher for academically talented students came about, I realized it was a great fit for both me and my family. I’ve been a classroom teacher for the past seven years at Brummer Elementary School and Pearson Elementary School. I’ve really been blessed to learn from some of the best in South Lyon, and I’m excited to transfer my skills to Novi!
What should your elementary school community know about you?
I’m the lucky mom of three amazing teenagers! Their activities keep our household busy and filled with fun, as do our two dogs, Zeus (a rescue) and Callie (a golden retriever). The public library is one of my favorite places, and I’m frequently adding books to my Goodreads lists! I love to be outside during the summer and warmer months, doing simple things like walking the dogs or taking care of my flowers. Our favorite vacation spots include Fripp Island, S.C., Disney World, and the northern Lake Michigan area. Both my husband and I attended the University of Michigan, and our oldest daughter is currently beginning her college education there this fall. We enjoy cheering for all of the Wolverine teams, whether that’s in person or at home watching on TV. Go Blue!
How will you work to connect with your community?
I’m excited for the new student and family tours of Parkview on August 26 as well as meeting the school community at our Open House on the evening of August 31! During the school year, I hope to be a visible presence throughout the day in the school, and especially at dropoff and dismissal to greet and say goodbye to the kids and families. We are hoping to bring some volunteers back into the building this year, and I’m eager to work with the PTO to revive some of the fun activities that bring our community together, like the Trunk or Treat and Fun Run in the fall. And of course, the community will hear from me weekly through the Parkview Principal Post!
Share a favorite memory from your K-4 experience and why that stuck out to you.
I remember the wonders of learning to read and the joy of books in my little hometown of Hemlock, Michigan. As a matter of fact, my mom saved my little yellow readers from kindergarten (anyone else remember Matt and Sam, the lion and mouse?), and I was able to share those books with my own children! Read-aloud time in school was a highlight of every day, bringing me closer to my teacher and classmates through that shared experience. Those books included the Beverly Cleary books about Ramona and Henry and Ribsy, as well as Shel Silverstein poetry books. To this day, I identify as “a reader,” and one of my favorite things about working in an elementary school is building, seeing, and sharing in the wonders and joys of reading and great books.