East Grand Rapids — Heather McKinney-Rewa is the new East Grand Rapids Middle School assistant principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet the Principal.
Other positions in education: McKinney-Rewa’s first teaching job was at Whitehall High School, the school she graduated from in 1998. While there she also coached varsity girls and boys tennis. After five years, she was hired to teach English at East Grand Rapids High School, where she also served as yearbook adviser and coordinator of the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
How about jobs outside education? She worked at office supply store Staples while home from breaks during college, and was a resident assistant in a freshman dormitory. “I liked having that leadership role because you had the opportunity to help students familiarize themselves with the campus and college life. It was such a fun time, because you are in such a whole new experience, able to explore so many different pathways. And the secret, awesome part was we got to go back to school 2 ½ weeks early and enjoy the campus when we didn’t have all those educational obligations.”
Education/degrees: Born and raised in the North Muskegon/Whitehall area, McKinney-Rewa earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and education from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois; a master’s degree in adult higher education from Grand Valley State University; and completed her education specialist certification from U-M Flint in curriculum and instruction.
Spouse/children: Husband, Mike Rewa, is a health teacher at Wyoming Junior High; a stepson is in college.
Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: “I really enjoy gardening and we have some chickens, and I really like to knit.”
What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? “Middle school was a fun time for me to just explore. I played softball and tennis, danced — ballet, jazz and character dancing … I was responsible, wanted to do well, certainly wanted to please my teachers and felt it was important.”
Working in education is… “an opportunity to impact people each and every day and make a positive difference in their lives.”
Working in education right now is… “extra-special, because one thing this pandemic is doing for education is helping everyone realize the importance of the role of all staff members in students’ lives, and that students have a new-found appreciation for being in person, at school. And I hope that we all afford one another grace that we are each doing our personal best every day. I don’t think it’s time for judgment; each family has to make decisions daily that are the right decisions for them.
“I also think it’s arguably the most challenging time to be an educator, no matter what role — social worker, teacher, custodian, administrator… Each of those jobs have evolved and are extremely significant right now. We have to operate with the assumption that everybody is working from a sense of positive intent. All stakeholders — superintendents, parents, their kids — are trying to do their best. Be supportive to one another. It means the world to us when a parent says, ‘thank you; I know you are doing your best.’”