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This leader is always learning

Determination, work ethic have helped her achieve

Elle Waldron isn’t a command-the-room type of leader. Rather, she said, “I’m the one asking a lot of questions.

“I’m not someone who outwardly likes to be in charge; that doesn’t come naturally to me,” said the Kalamazoo College-bound senior. “I’m more someone who watches and listens, asks a lot of questions, then offers my observations.”

Elle Waldron says she’s learned a lot from her parents’ work ethic

Consider working in groups, something students aren’t always thrilled to do but will likely do a lot of after high school. Like most, it wasn’t Elle’s favorite class activity. But now, said language arts teacher Sheri Steelman, “Students enjoy having her in groups because she has so much to offer.”

Said Elle: “It’s something I’ve really grown into my last two years of high school. I recognize that it’s what helps you grow. And when you’re teaching someone else something, you are learning more.”

There’s been a lot of growth for Elle during high school, and it started right away. She transferred in ninth grade from a Montessori school in another district, so she knows what it’s like to be the new kid.

She also learned from an initial rejection, having tried unsuccessfully her freshman year to join the school’s volleyball team. But she enjoyed the sport, so … “I started going to every possible camp and workshop and workout and practice I could go to.”

She made the team her sophomore year, and has been on it ever since.

“It taught me a lot about hard work and not giving up,” Elle said. “I would say that I’m pretty determined. One of the most important things for me is working hard at something and not giving up when you don’t get there.”

Elle Waldron, front, with fellow Northview High National Honor Society members last summer during a trip to help hurricane relief in North Carolina

Positive Pushing from Parents

Elle credits her father, a firefighter, and her mother, a Northview graduate and nurse who works with people with cancer, with “pushing me to be the best I can be without breaking myself.”

In her parents’ professions, she explained, “you have to have a lot of motivation, and you don’t necessarily see results of your work right away.”

More challenges presented themselves for Elle, in the form of pushing herself — with Steelman’s encouragement — to tackle classic literature, which did not come easily.

“I knew whatever (grade) I got wasn’t handed to me,” Elle said. “She really made me work for the grades I got.”

Her Montessori background also has come in handy in high school. “It’s a lot about being independent and self-driven — and there’s a big focus on service learning,” she said.

Those attributes have been put to use volunteering with elderly memory care patients with her sister, a sophomore; on a trip to North Carolina last summer to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity; and as president of the school’s National Honor Society.

At the end of her junior year, Elle ran for secretary of the honor society. “They asked me if I was willing to take any position and I said yes…”

Boom: she was elected president. And there’s that “always learning” attitude again.

“I’m glad I took it,” she said. “It was a challenge for me, but a good challenge. It’s taught me a lot.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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