Spartan, Hip-Hopper, Champion for Students

Lakeside Elementary principal Stephanie Thelen

School: Lakeside Elementary

Other positions you have held in education: I taught elementary Spanish for one year, spent five years in elementary classrooms, and was a principal at Saginaw Township Community Schools for the previous two years.
How about jobs outside education? As a college student, I worked for Michigan State University giving campus tours to prospective students and their families. I loved getting to talk to people about one of my favorite places. Go green!

Spouse/children: Husband, Corey; daughter, Kara; and golden doodle, Jake

Stephanie Thelen

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: golfing, running, volleyball

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school?
In elementary school, I was very quiet and loved to learn. I really enjoyed dance — tap, ballet, and hip-hop — which I did for 14 years before playing sports.

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… “There is always more than meets the eye. Each child is unique and comes to school with different experiences — some good, and some not so good. As educators, our job is to help students grow both academically and socially. One of my biggest pleasures in this field is getting to know each child and what makes them ‘tick.’ Once you have a relationship with them, the sky’s the limit.”

If I could go back to school I would go to grade ? because… “I would go back to fourth grade. It was my absolute favorite year because my teacher was very enthusiastic and made learning (especially multiplication facts) very fun for everyone. He is one of the reasons why I chose to become a teacher.”

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? “Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling.’ It is impossible not to feel happy and to start dancing when listening to that song.”


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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them.


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