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From class clown to head of the school

Meet your principal: Andrew Kolzow

Andrew Kolzow is the new East Kentwood Freshman Campus principal. SNN gets to know him in this edition of Meet Your Principal…

Other positions you have held in education: I was assistant principal at the East Kentwood Freshman Campus for eight years. Before that, I was an eighth-grade math teacher at Valleywood Middle School for six years, and an eighth-grade math teacher at Ross Beatty Junior High School in Cassopolis for one year.

New Freshman Campus Principal Andrew Kolzow remembers being “the new kid” in ninth grade

How about jobs outside education? I had a lot during high school and college! I was the sales manager at a sporting goods store called Sportsarama, in Sturgis; a cook at Applebee’s. I mowed lawns for a cemetery, drove a forklift and worked on a concrete crew. I’m very grateful for these experiences, I’ve learned many valuable lessons.

Education and degrees: I have a bachelor’s of science in education from Western Michigan University and a master’s in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University.

Spouse/children: Wife Renee Kolzow, children, Camryn, a sixth-grader at Pinewood Middle School; Macey, a second-grader at Explorer Elementary; and Drew, 3.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy all sports, especially golf and basketball. I like a good concert and enjoy spending time with the family. I like working on my yard, landscaping and putzing around the house. I’m not really a handyman but I get things done.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I was a pastor’s kid. We had just moved from Arcadia to Sturgis, so I was the new kid. I think I was a decent student although I was pretty sarcastic, a class clown at times, but I think most of my teacher’s appreciated the humor. My grades were above average, but I definitely wasn’t top of the class. I was involved in a lot of sports and activities and got along with most people. In fact, many of my best friendships to this day were formed during my high school years.

Principal Andrew Kolzow checks out a drawing by freshman Alessandro Rizo

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… Not to take things too seriously. Whenever I feel the job getting too heavy, I make it a point to go into the building and interact with our student body. Talking with freshman students really gives me perspective and reminds me of why we are in this business. Freshmen have the best questions and their energy is contagious. Our students are up against so much in today’s world but they never cease to amaze me by succeeding against all odds.

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I would go to… Middle School! We had the best group of friends and I just remember it being such a care-free time. At the school I attended the teachers were very invested in our success and I remember feeling very confident, which is not always the case during one’s middle school years. While there were still many things I would do differently, I feel like I was one of the lucky ones and wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? “Eye of the Tiger”, by Survivor. Not only do I listen to this song sometimes while I’m driving in to work to get me pumped up, but it also has a good message about overcoming obstacles, working hard, and showing grit, which are attributes we try to instill in our students every day.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


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