New Lakeside Elementary Principal Craig Weigel plans to continue the legacy of 21-year school leader Linda Kehm, who retired this summer.
Kehm coined the motto “Where Kindness Counts!” at the school, a culture-building phrase students and staff will keep saying.
“That will live on,” Weigel said.
For Weigel, the fourth principal in the school’s history, it’s a move to the elementary level from East Grand Rapids High School, where he served as assistant principal for four years. Before that, he served as a high school athletic director in Fort Myers, Fla. He also taught biology and coached football and basketball in Fort Myers, and has taught and coached at Zeeland High School.
“Working in East Grand Rapids has really been a positive experience,” he said, noting that his inspiration comes from parents, students and faculty. “Engaging a whole new staff, the teachers at Lakeside– that’s really energizing to me to come into a school that’s ready to go,” he said.
He recently met with fifth-grade students to help plan a back-to-school assembly.
“They are full of energy, which is fun,” he said.
The former West Ottawa High School and Adrian College football coach has taken a break from coaching “except for peewee-soccer” since moving to East Grand Rapids. He and his wife Carmen have three sons, Caden, 8, Colton, 5 and Cooper, 1. Caden and Colton attend Breton Downs Elementary School.
Kehm, whose legacy also includes her love of literacy and “reading a zillion books” returned as principal full-time after taking most of the 2012-2013 year off while she received treatment for cancer.
“Mr. Weigel is a highly dedicated individual with exceptional people skills, self-initiative, and a strong desire to succeed,” said Superintendent Sara Shubel in a letter to parents. “His exceptional leadership style, focus on relationships, learning initiatives, and ultimately his philosophy of putting the learning needs of the student first, will be a great asset at Lakeside.”