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Who says you can’t go home? Not this new AP

Meet Your Administrators: Stephanie Hare and Gina Middaugh

Byron Center Stephanie Hare is the new Nickels Intermediate School assistant principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Administrators.

Other positions in education: Hare taught physical education at Nickels for a year before serving as assistant principal at Forest Hills Northern High School for the last eight years.

Jobs outside of education: Before she was a teacher and a mother, Hare coached varsity track and field and varsity basketball at Northern High School. “Probably the biggest thing I learned from coaching is how to navigate teams and work with people,” she said. “You learn how your talents and abilities enhance others and lift them up. I don’t have all the answers, but someone else might have the skills for finding and filling the gaps.” 

Education/degrees: Hare completed both her bachelor’s degree in physical education and her master’s degree in educational leadership at Cornerstone University. 

Family: Hare has three kids, Sean (7), Peyton (5) and Teigan (2) with her husband, Chris. 

The Hare family, L to R, Teigan, Chris, Peyton, Sean and Stephanie (courtesy)

Hobbies/Interests: “My family enjoys going out and riding jet skis, riding four-wheelers out in the county and camping. One of our favorite places to camp is Black Lake up near Cheboygan.” 

Something you’re looking forward to this year is… “Getting back to the fifth and sixth grade level; they have a different energy and it’s fun and enjoyable,” Hare said. She is also looking forward to getting to know her new building and staff. 

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… “Students are resilient. They are able to be so flexible and to really show us sometimes how to be optimistic even while going through the constant changes.”

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school, I would go back to… “Third grade, because I had an amazing teacher and great friends. At that age you’re slowly getting more serious about school and it’s before the drama starts and you start getting involved in things.” Hare first started playing basketball during her elementary school years. 

What is something you’ve learned from the past year of the pandemic and how are you applying that to this year? “Anytime you’re forced to do as much change as we’ve had to do, you learn what needs to stick around and a lot of things we don’t want to stick around. We’ve learned tools and tricks for learning, how to build relationships through Zoom, and to not take our students for granted.”  

If you walked into your new school building to theme music by a favorite artist or band, what would it be?  “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” by Bon Jovi. It’s a great representation of my ‘coming home’ to the first school I ever taught at.”

New assistant principal: ‘What makes us unique makes us beautiful’

Gina Middaugh is the new assistant principal at Byron Center West Middle School

Gina Middaugh is the new West Middle School assistant principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet the Principal.

By Erin Albanese

Other positions you have held in education:  “I have been in education for 17-plus years. I started off teaching high-school biology in a small town in northern Florida, close to where I grew up. I then moved to California and taught middle-school science. After meeting my future husband, I moved to Vail, Colorado, where I taught seventh- and eighth-grade science to be closer to him. The year we married, we moved to the Traverse City area, near where my husband grew up, and I taught high-school earth space science and biology. Later we moved to St. Augustine, Florida, where I taught high-school marine science, biology and earth space science before becoming an assistant principal at a middle school.”

How about jobs outside education?

“I have worked various restaurant jobs to help with college expenses. – Some of the more interesting jobs I have had are:  -traveling the country teaching middle- and high-school cheer camps for a summer; traveling throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada as public relations representative for the National Watermelon Association, and working in a state forest in Florida, tagging and studying one of the four most endangered birds in North America: the red cockaded woodpecker. I also did research working with alligators: catching them, taking various types of data and then tagging them.”

Education/degrees: “I graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation, specializing in biology, with minors in secondary education and zoology. I later went back to school and received a minor in earth science, and then a master’s in educational leadership.”

Family: “I have been married to my husband, Yaro, for almost 14 years, and we have four amazing children. Wilder, 11; River, 9; Tayah, 6; and Briggs, 2. We also have Luna, our 3-year-old dog, and Charlie, our 6-year-old cat.”

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: “I love to run and do anything outdoors. I can’t wait to go snowshoeing and sledding this winter! I picked up silversmithing years ago, and still make jewelry when I have time. I love to crochet and macrame and read (when I have time). I loved competing in triathlons when I was younger and coaching cross-country at the high-school level.”  

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? “I loved being outside — swimming, running, biking — anything really. I cheered, ran track and played softball, but really always wanted to play basketball. I was editor of the yearbook in eighth grade, too.”

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is…”Gosh! I’ve learned so much. If I had to pick one, well let’s do two, I would say:

  1. People deserve a second chance. It allows them to grow and become a better person. We all make mistakes and we all deserve second chances. It also helps me to grow. 
  2. How to see the world from many different perspectives. Everyone has a story; everyone has lived a different life and is going through many different things. I always try to remember that, and know that this is what makes us unique and our own kind of beautiful.”

If I could go back to school I would go to “eighth grade, because I would get more involved in different activities and really learn how to study.  That would have made my college years a bit easier.”

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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