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District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New principal, dean among administrative changes

With in-person instruction now under way following a two-week remote start, administrators — new to the district and taking on new roles — are welcoming students.

Former Bowen Elementary Principal Blair Feldkamp begins as Discovery Elementary principal. Former Freshman Campus Principal Andrew Kolzow begins as Pinewood Middle School principal. 

Two administrators are brand new to principal posts and one is new to the district as a dean of students: Angelia Coleman, Mary Campione and Dominic Lowe. SNN gets to know them in this edition of Meet Your Administrator.

Meet Your Administrator: Angelia Coleman

Angelia Coleman is the new dean of students at Endeavor Elementary

Other positions you have held in education: Muskegon has always been my home. I am a product of Muskegon Public Schools and had the privilege of returning to my alma mater to begin my career in education.

I was a teacher at Muskegon Public Schools for six years; a principal at Grand Rapids Public Schools for three years; and a principal at National Heritage Academies for eight years.

How about jobs outside education? I was once the salad bar attendant at Ponderosa; was a clerk for Sears Department Store; a secret shopper for an online company; and an entrepreneur for a number of years owning and operating my licensed home day care.

Education/degrees: I have a bachelor’s from Grand Valley State University; a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Ferris State University; an Educational Specialist degree from GVSU; and a doctorate from Eastern Michigan University. Although I have earned postgraduate degrees from three amazing universities in Michigan, I am indeed a #Laker4Life!

Spouse/children: Three beautiful adult children who have all made Grand Rapids their home for at least the past 10 years. NaTasha is the culture competency and inclusion manager for Kent County Head Start; Constance is a Certified Nursing Assistant for Metro Hospital; Joseph works for Spectrum and is a computer analyst. Our family includes my beautiful 5-year-old granddaughter (Queen Amina) and a very special son-in-law, Jose, who is a native of Grand Rapids.

Hobbies/interests/little-known talent: Aside from my love of the water, walking, sunsets on the pier, baking, biking and audible books, I truly get the greatest thrill from vintage and thrift shopping. There’s nothing like finding a “diamond in the rough” and transforming what one thought was trash into a remarkable treasure.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I was always a very friendly child who could hang out with any of my classmates. I smiled all the time and at parent-teacher conferences. The only “bad” report that I ever got was that I talked too much in class. LOL … some things haven’t changed much.

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is … that we need to listen to their stories. How many times do we actually listen and seek their feedback on issues that impact their lives? The biggest lesson that students have taught me is that when they feel valued they respond to you in a completely different manner. They have taught me to give them space to be seen, to be heard and to be valued for the agency which they too possess.

Regarding starting as a dean of students during the pandemic: What is the No. 1 potential positive change for schools you hope comes out of this? In the midst of this unexpected turbulence exists the opportunity for schools to rethink, redesign and reimagine! A keen sense of awareness for the accountability that is often associated with high-stakes testing has for decades been a reality for Michigan schools. As the pandemic hit and the cloak of the M-STEP was lifted, what arose was a sense of ingenuity, freedom and restructuring of instructional delivery. 

It is my hope that as we continue to navigate this newly shifted landscape, we will continue to stoke the fires of creativity while thinking outside of the box. Our ability to further ensure that we are holding true to our motto of #equityforall through equal access of technology and resources for all students is another poignant example how we can come out of this pandemic even stronger. Daily, we are living and creating history which will be read about in the textbooks of future generations. It is my hope that as we embrace our fortitude we will emphatically proclaim that through our collective minds, hearts and talents KPS educators left no child behind, not even online. 

If you walked into your new school building to theme music by a favorite artist or band, what would the song be? The song I would walk into at 7 a.m. before staff and students arrive would be “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige. The song I would walk into with my staff and students would be “I Smile” by Kirk Franklin. 

Meet Your Principal: Mary Campione

Mary Campione is the new Principal at Bowen Elementary

Other positions you have held in education:

  • Fourth  and fifth-grade teacher in the Kentwood Public Schools for 13 years, 2004-2017  (seven years at Bowen Elementary)
  • Dean of Elementary Students at Endeavor Elementary from 2017-2020

How about jobs outside education? I worked as a summer camp activity coordinator. I was also an elementary basketball coach for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids for seven years.

Education/degrees: I received a bachelor’s in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College and my master’s in Educational Leadership is from Western Michigan University.

Spouse/children: I have a Bernedoodle named Bell.

Hobbies/interests/little-known talent: I enjoy cooking, running, snowboarding and walks with Bella.

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I was very active. I loved hands-on activities and group projects. My favorite subjects were math and science. I enjoyed the competitive nature of physical education and being with my friends at recess! 

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… The power of building a relationship. Kentwood Public Schools are rooted in the belief that when you have a child’s heart you have their mind. I’ve discovered the lasting impact of pouring into the whole child.

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I would go to grade… I would return to second grade with Mrs. Rundquist. She taught with love and compassion. I’ll always remember the birthday books she created. They were titled “You Are Special Because…” Or maybe fifth grade with Miss Watson. This was the year I met some of my best friends. Thirty years later, we are still in each other’s lives planning family dinners and trips out West. Maybe I would go back to junior year in high school when I had Sister Robert Ann for Algebra III, trigonometry and geometry. She taught me the importance of being organized and prepared for success. That’s the gift of being a teacher — the smallest acts can create lasting memories. 

Regarding starting as a new principal during the pandemic: What is the No. 1 potential positive change for schools you hope comes out of this? These are unusual times, and families and teachers are working together more than ever before to meet the needs of our children. My hope for Bowen Elementary is to increase parent engagement in the daily learning process; educating parents about our learning platforms and curriculum. 

If you walked into your new school building to theme music by a favorite artist or band, what would the song be? “Sunday Best” by Surfaces encompasses my current state of mind. I’m feeling blessed to have the opportunity to lead the Bowen community through these uncharted waters. Together, with staff and families, we will establish our new normal and find innovative ways to educate children no matter the distance.

Meet Your Principal: Dominic Lowe

Dominic Lowe is principal of East Kentwood Freshman Campus

Dominic Lowe is the new East Kentwood Freshman Center principal

Other positions you have held in education: I have been in Kentwood Public Schools all 20 years of my professional career. My first 14 years were spent teaching math and technology (the first 10 were at EK Freshman Campus).  For the last six years, I have been one of the assistant principals at East Kentwood High School. It is exciting to be back where I started 20 years ago. In those years of teaching, I also held the role of summer school principal, and coached baseball for 12 seasons at various levels and football for 10.

 How about jobs outside education? In my college days, I was the student audio/visual coordinator for Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus. I also worked as summer help in residential and commercial construction pouring concrete walls. Early in my teaching career, I spent summers as a network infrastructure technician where I ran network wire on new construction projects and building renovations.

Education/degrees: I earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in math and a minor in computer science from GVSU in 1999 and a master’s degree, also from GVSU, in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on secondary education in 2007.

Spouse/children: My wife, Bryony, is a health and Teen Leadership teacher in Kentwood at Crestwood Middle School.  We have two children, Delaney, 11, and Tegan, 10.

Hobbies/interests/little-known talent: Talents might be a stretch, but hobbies include gardening and camping. I enjoy almost anything outdoors and I love to compete in recreational sports, like softball and basketball. I also have a small flock of hens that I raise for fresh eggs. I dabble in a little bit of every phase of home construction and car repairs. Some people say I am too cheap to hire anyone to do something, but I am too stubborn to admit that I need help. It is a blessing and a curse.

Dominic Lowe loved sports as a teenager

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? I was a sports junkie when I was a kid. Not the sports junkie that can tell you who played third base for the 1987 Detroit Tigers, but a junkie that studied whatever game I watched and appreciated a good competition. I had certain teams I cheered for, but mostly I just loved watching a game. I loved watching and playing football, basketball and baseball.  I was also involved in woodworking and 4-H as a kid. I may have indulged in some video games occasionally, but our options were limited to Atari and Nintendo Entertainment System.

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… Everyone has a story. I heard an anecdote about the “hero’s journey” at a training that I participated in last year and it resonates with me and our work as educators. The gist of it is that every good story has a hero. Also in every good story there is a guide, someone the hero confides in that influences their action and drives outcomes on the hero’s quest. Think of your favorite movie. Now think of the hero. Who does the hero meet along the hero’s journey that helps them on the way? Every good story has a hero and every good story has a guide. That guide becomes a key part of the hero’s journey because without their guidance and leadership, the hero may have been defeated on their quest.

Now, put that into perspective as an educator. All of us have the capacity to be that guide for each of our kids. We have to learn to listen. Listen to what their words and actions are saying. Then be their guide, but do not try to be the hero. Everyone wants to be the hero in their own story. Be the guide that helps them along the way.

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I would go to … ninth grade, because I would have taken more risks and gotten out of my own comfort zone a bit.  My school was small, so everybody knew everybody, but I stayed in my bubble. I am confident I would have met more people and had better opportunities if I would have grown my circle of friends when I started high school.

Regarding starting as a new principal during the pandemic: What is the No. 1 potential positive change for schools you hope comes out of this? I could go a variety of ways with this. There are issues of social justice, equity and school reform that have been brought to the forefront during this pandemic. There are mental health challenges that we must overcome in regards to overall anxiety and stress for our students, staff and families. There are new educational and learning tools that take what we do in a classroom and make it available for consumption at home for our students and families. There are communication tools that have been underutilized before this pandemic forced us to do things differently. We have not seen the long-term impacts of remote learning but must continue to adjust and adapt post-COVID to meet the needs of our families. Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” The most important thing that can come from this is that we adapt and change to best fit the needs of the families we serve.

If you walked into your new school building to theme music by a favorite artist or band, what would the song be? I am going to go with “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It is contagious and fun!

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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