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Former teachers now elementary leaders for GRPS

Youth mentor, Bible reader, basketball junkie

Meet Your Principal: Thomas A. Standifer II

Thomas A. Standifer II is the new principal of Mulick Park Elementary School. SNN gets to know him in this edition of Meet Your Principal.

Other positions you have held in education: I started teaching through the substitute system in GRPS and went on to teach first grade at William C. Abney Academy. I also taught third grade at Sherwood Park Elementary School. I spent my last seven years at MLK Leadership Academy, where I taught third, fourth and fifth grades. I was on the instructional leadership team instructional rounds team, ASCD professional development team and the African American Young Males of Promise.

How about jobs outside education? I work at the Polo Ralph Lauren store at the Tanger Outlet on weekends. Most of my jobs have been centered around education.

Family: I have two kids: Christopher, my look-alike, and Shawnae. Christopher is a fourth-grade student with lots of energy and Shawnae is a student at Ferris State University.

Hobbies/interests/little-known talent: I am a huge basketball junky, or just a sports fanatic. I love mentoring the youth. They bring you joy and you learn so much from them. Reading the Bible is a must for me. Spending time with my son and my nephews is my joy. As I’ve gotten a little older I just like relaxing and enjoying good conversation.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I was always a leader. At this time of my life I was running around my neighborhood doing odd jobs for money. I also worked at the local corner store. I had a comic book company. I was a busy guy. Though I was busy I made room for my cartoons like He-Man, G.I. Joe, and many others. I also played football for Garfield Park and basketball for the Seidman Center.

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is … to be resilient. No matter what life throws at you — and there will opposition on the road to victory — never give up. Never stop fighting, and have faith that you are going to come out on top. I say this because I’ve taught plenty of students who’ve lived through tragic and dire situations and could’ve given up at any time; instead they showed nothing but grit and tenacity.

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I would … go back to my freshman year at Ottawa Hills. I didn’t have a bad high school experience, but knowing what I know now I could’ve prepared myself for college and life in general a little better. Though that is true, I take nothing away from my high school career — it helped to shape and mold me.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? Well, I am split between the eternal side and worldly side. If we are speaking eternally the song would “He’s Sweet, I Know.” This song is important to me because it lets me know how much God, my father, does for me every waking day. Now, if we are speaking world, “I Know I Can” by Nasir Jones. This song was on Nas’ album “God’s Son.” It gave me inspiration to know I can be what I want to be, and if I work hard at it I’ll be where I want to be.

Montessori specialist, scuba diver, once drove a Porsche race car  

Meet Your Principal: Julie Fogg Reyers

Julie Fogg Reyers is the new Ridgemoor Park Montessori principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Principal.

Other positions you have held in education: Adolescent Montessori guide and International Baccalaureate English instructor at the Montessori High School at University Circle, Cleveland, Ohio. Middle and high school English teacher at Grand Rapids Montessori High School. Grand Rapids Community College adjunct faculty and professional tutor in the ATC open computer lab.

How about jobs outside education? I’ve been a waitress, lifeguard and a temp worker. I briefly worked in advertising for a small company that specialized in drag racing and gull-wing Mercedes publications, and I got to drive a Porsche race car with roll bars once.

Julie Fogg Reyers as a third-grader

Children: Daughters Kyla, 17; Laney, 14; and three dogs.

Hobbies/interests/little-known talent: I love to travel to new places, scuba dive and relax with a good book.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I always loved books, but I was also a secret science fanatic. I was also on the swim team and loved to have fun with friends.

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is … Working with students is the best part of my career. They keep me optimistic, determined and young at heart.

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I wouldspend a day in sixth grade with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Humphrey (of Grand Rapids Zoo School). He was a wonderful teacher and a gifted singer. He introduced me to Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and expanded my cultural horizons.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? Depends on the day! I love music and I would want a variety of songs. Today I want to hear “Summertime” because you got me thinking about “Porgy and Bess” and it is certainly a muggy day. I also like “Break My Stride” and “Bright Future in Sales.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. 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


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