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New Sparta superintendent: ‘Put me in, coach, I am ready to play’

Pete Bush eager to develop what’s next

Pete Bush

The first question Pete Bush was asked by the student panel during the superintendent interview process was how he would decide on closing school for snow days.

That, he said, is an important question, because it deals with school safety.

“Making sure that the weather conditions are safe to keep school open is a part of that, but also having secure entrances, performing safety drills and training, providing support for both physical and mental challenges, and a wealth of other things fall in this category. This is a team effort with our staff, parents, and the community.”

‘With all that has happened in schools over the last 20 years, we have to do all that we can to ensure the safety of our students when they are in our care,” he said, responding to a question about the most important role of a superintendent.

Getting to Know Pete Bush

Most important lesson learned from students: “Always remain a child at heart. It is what keeps you going many days. Kids continue to bring out the best in all of us.”

If he went back to school days: 11th grade. “That is a great time in life, you can drive, play sports, and learn how to be a successful adult, but still live at home with parents and family and have that full support.”

Hobbies: He has played baseball his entire life and still does in a Grand Rapids area league (for over 40 crowd) – “I enjoy it so much; it gives me a couple of hours of being a kid again.” He also enjoys being out on the water with family in their boat

Theme song: “Centerfield” by John Fogarty. “First, I was a center-fielder and thought it was a great song, but now it is more about the opportunities I have had from being a teacher, varsity coach, athletic director, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent,” he said.”

Jobs outside education: bank teller, intramural sports official, and doing grounds/maintenance work on a golf course

His philosophy: “Put me in coach, I am ready to play.”

Bush said he grew up with parents who valued education and made sure that he took his studies seriously. For as long he can remember, he was involved in athletics and played both baseball and basketball while in high school. His favorite subject was math and recalls “enjoying helping others understand it.”

“I was a good math student and enjoyed athletics,” he said. “Plus I liked being around kids, so I guess I always knew teaching and coaching was what I wanted to do.”

He began his career in Rogers City in 1991, teaching math, health, and computers, as well as coaching varsity boys basketball. Ater a similar position at Lowell High school, he moved to assistant principal/athletic director in Cedar Springs.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I gradually turned my focus to athletic administration, returned to school and moved into administration full time.”

Before coming to Sparta, he served seven years as high school principal in Coopersville and as superintendent at Coloma Community Schools for four.

“I have enjoyed all of the opportunities I have had in getting to this point and have embraced each new challenge. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities in Sparta,” he said. He pointed to excitement in the district with opening of the new athletic facilities in September and the targeted completion of a new middle school in 2020.

First up in Sparta, he said, is to “do a lot of assessing and get a good sense of what is being done. The district is in a good spot now, providing a solid education. My focus will be what is next – how can we achieve excellence in every area?”

Bush and his wife Rebecca have two sons, Tyler, 14, and Parker, 10, who are both Sparta students.

Pete Bush visits a Sparta classroom

Pete Bush is pictured during his time as a high school coach in 1995

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst 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 is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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