Back to the classroom, except it’s all the classrooms

Superintendent Rob Blitchok excited for new leadership role

Rob Blitchok addresses Thornapple Kellogg staff on the first day of school

Attorney and financial analyst by license, educator by choice, Thornapple Kellogg’s new superintendent Rob Blitchok is ready to introduce himself to the community.

“My goal for this year is to meet as many members and groups in the area as possible,” Blitchok said. “I know the staff pretty well, but I’m ready to really meet the community.”

And meeting the community is just what he’s been doing since July 1.

“We’re a small district, but we’re not,” Blitchok said. “We’re 125 square miles. We’re based in Middleville, go way out to Freeport, down to Gun Lake, we touch Hastings. It’s a pretty wide spectrum.”

Blitchok will succeed superintendent Tom Enslen, an educator for 35 years and Thornapple Kellogg’s top administrator for the last six.

Content is important, but kids really want to know that you care about them.’ — Rob Blitchok, Thornapple Kellogg superintendent  

Rob Blitchok shows off his wrestling past in his new superintendent’s office space

From Business to Education

Blitchok previously served as assistant superintendent overseeing business, finance, human resources, facilities, transportation and food service. Before coming to Thornapple Kellogg in 2014, he worked as a teacher, varsity wrestling coach and principal at Forest Hills Public Schools. He also served on the Grandville School Board.

Blitchok holds a law degree from Wayne State University, a master’s of business administration in finance from Western Michigan University, and a graduate teacher certification from Grand Valley State University. Prior to education, he worked in corporate finance.

“I enjoyed my work in corporate finance, but I always had a desire to teach and coach,” he said. “So, at the age of 30 I went back and got certified and got started in education.”

Coming from a family of educators, his wife being the only one in her family to not become a teacher, the transition from finance to education felt natural, he said.

Fun Facts about Rob Blitchok:

Hobbies/Interest: My kids, and when I’m not with them, I like to play Pickleball with friends.

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school, I would … go back to kindergarten. I would want to start this whole thing over and have a blast.

If you could walk into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? “Back in Black” or “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Family: Julie, wife of 23 years, Sydney, 21, Tommy, 19, Jennifer, 16,  Rachel,14.

Back to the Classroom

Though Blitchok has enjoyed every role he has held in education, the classroom was his favorite place to be.

“I taught eighth grade and high school social studies and was a varsity wrestling coach,” he said. “There’s nothing better than having a strong connection with kids.”

Lessons he learned as a teacher still stick with him as superintendent, he said.

“Content is important, but kids really want to know that you care about them. I’ve found that and believe that.”

An average student himself during his educational career in Grandville Public Schools, Blitchok uses his own life lessons to help students going through the same things.

“I didn’t become a good academic student until my senior year, and I use that to relate to kids, to help them along the way,” he said.

Making students the top priority has been, and will always be the most important thing, Blitchok said. Supporting positive mental health initiatives and student safety and security measures, including the addition of a second school security officer, will be an emphasis for the school year. Blitchok also plans to focus on managing expected growth intelligently by being committed and informed of the local communities.

“My role is to lead the district and support staff and students. I’m excited to get to work.”

A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit. Read Hannah's full bio.

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