Why were you interested in becoming an elementary principal in the Novi Community School District?
As a resident of the Novi community for the past ten years, I am extremely excited to join the Novi Community School District. Novi is a community that not only values and supports education, but embraces and celebrates diversity. NCSD has a focus on developing the whole child by providing exceptional teaching, supporting great character education, and offering a plethora of extracurricular experiences that make well-rounded children. I am thankful for the opportunities I had to teach and lead in the Grosse Pointe Public Schools System since 2006, but to be able to serve my community is a dream come true.
What are some general goals or a vision you have for your first year in your new role?
As the next principal of Deerfield Elementary, I plan to do a lot of listening. I want to honor the staff’s hard work and support the initiatives that are working well. Deerfield is one of the best schools in the state of Michigan for a reason and I want to ensure I continue that expectation of excellence. Even with Deerfield’s success, I will be looking for opportunities for growth so we can continue to improve and best serve the needs of our learners.
The three main areas that I plan to focus on are building relationships, supporting instruction, and creating a safe and inclusive school for everyone. Strong relationships with staff, students, and parents are the key to creating a positive school experience. I’m proud to join the administrative team in NCDS, which has valued the academic, social, and emotional growth of students. I look forward to supporting the students, staff, and families at Deerfield so each child instructionally gets what they need to grow. Finally, as a parent of four children myself, I know how much trust parents put in schools that their child is not only safe, but thriving each day. I want to make sure everyone at Deerfield feels safe, included, and important in order to foster an inclusive school culture.
What would you like to share about your leadership style?
First, I believe that teaching and learning should be fun. As the principal of Deerfield, I plan to model that mindset with my staff and encourage joy to be present in every classroom. Students should love coming to school each day, ready to take risks and learn in collaboration with their peers. I like to be a present and visible administrator who is in classrooms daily and working with kids.
This will be my fifth year as an administrator, so I’m not far removed from being an elementary school teacher myself. I taught mostly fourth and fifth grade for twelve years. I know how hardworking and dedicated teachers are, so I’m very mindful to trust their professional expertise while providing the support that they need on a daily basis. I enjoy partnering and empowering the staff to lead the change in the school and look forward to working side-by-side with the Deerfield staff.
What do you love about public education?
School today is not the same as school when I was growing up. I remember sitting in rows listening to the teacher stand at the front of the room and deliver only one lesson to the whole class. Teachers today provide tailored individualized and small group instruction based on both formative and summative assessments. Teachers really get to know their students. Students that are ready are able to be pushed and challenged to extend their thinking or skills. Students that need additional support are able to go slower and get more direct instruction and feedback in order to grasp the concepts. Public education today truly supports each child to meet them where they are at.
How has your journey in public education prepared you for this opportunity?
I was fortunate to be a teacher at Mason Elementary, a Title 1 and National Blue Ribbon School in Grosse Pointe, for most of my teaching career. Every year I enjoyed building a caring classroom community with my students. Having them create the classroom rules and class mission together allowed them to buy-in to a classroom where they were important and respected. Once I went through the Galileo Teacher Leadership Academy, I realized I wanted to have a bigger influence than just the 25 students in my classroom. I took on various leadership roles within Grosse Pointe, which allowed me to hone my leadership and collaboration skills. After twelve years of teaching in the district, I was fortunate to be named the principal at Maire Elementary. As the principal of Maire, I was able to make that community feel that I loved fostering in my own classroom and recreate that to impact over 300 students. I am excited to put my focus and passion into creating a caring and supportive school community at Deerfield.
What should your elementary school community know about you?
I love most sports, but especially soccer. I loved playing a variety of sports when I was a kid and very much enjoy seeing my own four boys get involved in sports. Between basketball games at Novi Middle School, soccer games at Bosco Field, or baseball games at ITC, seeing my boys develop a love for sports has been great as a parent. My family enjoys taking vacations together. This summer we took a trip to Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Every summer we also go tent camping where we can enjoy riding bikes, going on hikes, and swimming in the Great Lakes.
How will you work to connect with your community?
Fostering relationships right away is important to me. I want to sit down with each of my staff members and get to know them as people inside and outside of the classroom. I will be reaching out to the Deerfield PTO to introduce myself and hear about how I can support their work enriching the school experience. I plan to join Superintendent Ben Mainka on the Deerfield playground for the summer reading event, as a way we can both introduce ourselves and meet families. Early this fall, I’ll be setting up “Coffee with the Principal” events hosted at Deerfield as a way to connect, listen, and build relationships with parents. I am really looking forward to building relationships with everyone at Deerfield.
Share a favorite memory from your K-4 experience and why that stuck out to you.
My favorite memories are ones of student growth. As the principal, I’m able to see how each child develops year after year. One comes to mind that only cements how important it is to build strong relationships. My first year as the principal of Maire we started a Young 5s program, which was an option for students not ready for a traditional kindergarten placement. I had one student who acted out, threw tantrums, tore the room apart, and ran from the room when they didn’t get their way. I worked hard on building a relationship with that student and their parents. Partnering with the teacher and our support staff, we put plans in place so that the student could find success. It took time, perseverance, and a lot of work on building trust with that student throughout the year. By kindergarten, this was the student who would break from line only to give me a hug in the hallway. I love seeing the growth and development of kids.