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Dual Roles for New School Head

Meet Your Principal: Dan Heitzman

School: West Oakview Elementary

What and where was your previous job? I have served as the director of special services for the past 14 years in Northview. I will continue that position at secondary schools and at West Oakview, while Trish Lopucki will oversee East and North Oakview schools and Highlands Middle School.

Degrees: Bachelor’s degree in psychology/special education/elementary education, master’s in learning disabilities and master’s in educational leadership, all at Grand Valley State University

Other positions you have held in education: I worked in East Grand Rapids for nine years as a special education teacher, teacher consultant and supervisor for special education services. My first teaching position was at West Oakview Elementary in Northview 25 years ago, where I taught for two years as an elementary resource room teacher. I ended up leaving Northview after being laid off for two consecutive years, but it feels great to be coming home to West!

Heitzman as a fourth-grader at Holy Spirit School
Heitzman as a fourth-grader at Holy Spirit School

How about jobs outside education? I worked in a meat packing plant, loaded trucks at UPS and worked at a grocery store while in college.

What are you most looking forward to as principal here? I’ve always wanted to serve as an elementary principal. I’m looking forward to building relationships with students, staff and families and to see students grow in all areas of life.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I was a very active kid who needed a great deal of redirection. I loved sports and my favorite part of the day was probably running around at recess.

Spouse/children: My wife, Rhonda and I have been married for 24 years. We have two awesome kids. Zach will be a sophomore in college and Kelsey will be a senior in high school.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy spending time with family and friends, swimming and staying active.

What inspires you, both in your educational role and in your own life? I have been blessed to have had so many wonderful people invest in me throughout my entire life, so it’s motivating for me to know that I might be able to have an impact on others as well.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I was on the swim team at Grand Valley for four years.

Tell us about a non-professional book you recommend and why: “The Boys in the Boat” is a true story of how a group of boys overcome great odds and end up representing the U.S. in rowing at the 1936 Olympics.

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio


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