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Make them Feel ‘Valued, Capable and Loved’

Meet Your Principal: Beth Whaley

School: Cedar Trails

Other positions you have held in education: I was a principal and early childhood director for DeWitt Public Schools for three years; an early childhood specialist for Ingham ISD for three years; and a Great Start Readiness Program lead teacher for 18 years.

How about jobs outside education? I worked as a soda fountain clerk all through high school. I still can’t decide which soda fountain treat was my favorite, but it was definitely between a hot fudge marshmallow sundae made with mint chocolate chip ice cream and a vanilla Coke.

Beth Whaley, December, 1974

Family: I have three sons: Zack, 27; Josh, 26; and Sam 24

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: My hobbies are gardening, quilting and travel. My little-known talent is that I can turn my tongue upside-down.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? When I was in kindergarten and first grade, I loved to ride bikes and play Hide and Seek with my neighborhood friends. My family used to walk to the park, and my dad would have us all balance on the curbs and pretend the road was full of alligators. My sister and I loved that game!

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… that no one wants to be seen as different. If someone is struggling, there is always a legitimate reason; they just need to trust you enough to share it and know that you’ll love them through it.

If I could go back to school I would go to… kindergarten, because my teacher made me feel valued, capable and loved. It’s why I went into teaching: to do that for every kiddo.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors


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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst was a reporter for SNN covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts.


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