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Shoe salesman and mashed potato maker comes back to his roots

Meet Your Principal: Nate Robrahn

Nate Robrahn is the new Kenowa Hills High School principal. SNN gets to know him in this edition of Meet Your Principal.

Nate Robrahn said coming back to his alma mater wasn’t really on his radar.

New Kenowa Hills High School Principal Nate Robrahn goes back to his roots

“Probably 10 years ago I would have said, ‘Nah, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Kenowa Hills,’ but more recently, I said, ‘It’d be kind of fun to maybe finish there,’” Robrahn explained. “Interestingly enough, my wife (Jane) had the opportunity to go back to her school. She now teaches in Grandville where she graduated, and it’s been real powerful for her. Same deal for me. This has really been a good experience.

“When we grew up, my parents had opportunities to go somewhere else and they said they were going to stay at Kenowa because it was good for our family. Now I feel some of that. There is that pride of this is where I started.”

Robrahn said he wasn’t drawn to Kenowa Hills just because he went to school there, but also because they teach using personal mastery and competency-based education.

“I was blessed enough to be in Caledonia, where we did some of that work 25 or 30 years ago.”

Other positions you have held in education:

  • Principal at Wyoming High School
  • Superintendent at Montague Area Public Schools
  • Principal at Zeeland High School and Zeeland East High School
  • Teacher and assistant principal at Caledonia High School
  • Middle school teacher at Holland Public Schools

Education/degrees:

  • Bachelor’s degree and teacher certification from Hope College
  • Master’s degree in education and administrative certification from Grand Valley State University

Jobs outside education:

For a time, early in my teaching career, I also sold shoes at Gazelle Sports and really learned a lot and enjoyed the interaction with customers. My first job was working at the Meijer headquarters (Grand Rapids) in the catering department, where I learned how to clean a chicken and make huge amounts of mashed potatoes.

New Kenowa Hills High School Principal Nate Robrahn pictured with his family, from left: Jane (spouse), Annika (front row), Max and Greta (back row)

Spouse/children: Jane (spouse), works at Grandville High School as an English teacher, and children Max, Greta and Annika

Hobbies/Interests: I do enjoy the water and spending time on our boat up north. I also enjoy yoga to stay centered.

New Kenowa Hills High School Principal Nate Robrahn during his basketball days as a Knight

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I enjoyed my time at Kenowa and am really proud to be back. I worked hard enough and had a great time with friends. 

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… Young people really want to make a difference in this world. They do a better job of listening to learn and caring about other individuals. 

If I could go back to school, I would probably go back to 10th grade and really work at school and put in some extra effort. But I’m pretty happy where I am right now.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? This is one of my favorite questions; lots of options here. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC or “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mike Burde said Robrahn has been a great addition to the district and the community.

“He has transitioned nicely to our high school learning community and is forming relationships with students, staff and families,” Burde said. “I have also appreciated his innovative thinking about our programs and how we can continue to push forward with a continuous improvement mindset. We are beyond excited to have Mr. Robrahn on our team at Kenowa Hills.”

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Cris Greer
Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more.

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