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Two New Leaders for City Schools


Snowboarder, Mushroom Harvester, Stevie Wonder Fan

Meet Your Principal: Ryan Huppert

School: City High/Middle and the Center for Economicology

Other positions you have held in education: Sparta Community Education: teacher of ESL to migrant agricultural community; Grand Rapids Public Schools: science teacher at Southwest Community Campus Dual-Immersion in Spanish/English; assistant principal positions at Blandford School, Zoo School, Center for Economicology, City High/Middle, C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy Middle/High School.

How about jobs outside education? The Grand Rapids Press, carrier of the month during middle school; landscape installer during high school; native plant restoration technician, Hiawatha National Forest Service, Upper Peninsula; gourmet mushroom harvester for restaurant industry, Coos Bay, Oregon.

Ryan Huppert shows his snowboarding form

Spouse/children: Wife, Dawn Heartwell (GRPS social worker); two sons, Micah and Gabe Huppert (GRPS students)

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: Fly-fishing, reading, the sciences, snowboarding/skateboarding, beekeeping, travel and exploring wild and places with my family.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? As a teen I was into skateboarding, music/concerts and road trips with friends.

The biggest lesson I have learned from students is… we are all just people who need someone by our side to help us realize our dreams, and they deserve to be treated as any adult would: with the utmost respect and kindness!

If I could go back to school I would go to … middle school, because I better understand now that you truly can be anything you work hard to become … and that starts with the path you begin on as an adolescent.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. His accomplishing so much in life in the face of adversity is an inspiration to me, and his music embodies that relentless and inspirational attitude.


Adam Rusticus with his wife, Lies, and their newborn daughter, Avery

Short-Order Cook, Serious Golfer, Secret Taylor Swift Fan

Meet Your Principal: Adam Rusticus

School: East Leonard Elementary

Other positions you have held in education: This will be my eighth year in Grand Rapids Public Schools. I have been a behavioral interventionist at Alger Middle; a math instructor at Westwood Middle and C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy; a math coach at Brookside Elementary; and for the last three years I was a fifth-grade teacher at C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy.

How about jobs outside education? Teaching is my first career, but I held jobs in various restaurants as a line cook. I love cooking, and the “sport” of short-order cooking. I also work at a local golf course during the summers.

Spouse/children: wife, Lies Rusticus; daughter Avery, born June 20.

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: Cooking, sports (especially golf), spending time up north with family.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I only have a few specific memories of my elementary years but I remember I was a mischievous young boy. I was only interested in sports and my favorite TV programs were “Sports Center” and “Baseball Tonight.” To this day, my wife and family poke fun at me for not remembering childhood movies or books because I was so engulfed in sports. I participated in every sport possible and I try to make everything into a competition.

The biggest lesson I have learned from students is… relationships are key. Take extra time to build positive relationships with people you meet!

If I could go back to school I would go to … fifth grade, because I remember the community feel that an elementary classroom contained. I was also at an age where I started to find my voice and I developed better relationships with my classmates.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? If you ask anyone of my former fifth-grade students who my favorite musician is, they would/should all say Taylor Swift. It’s usually a little secret between the class and me, but I guess I can share it here! The song would probably be “Shake It Off.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers Rockford and Grand Rapids. 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 or email Charles.

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