Cedar Springs — Cassandra Chartier is the new director of preschool and Campus Kids programs for Cedar Springs Public Schools. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Administrators.
What are you most looking forward to in this new role? “I’m excited for the opportunity for growth,” Chartier said. “There’s such amazing things already going on in Cedar with a great foundation for early childhood education, and being able to teach kids that learning is fun, and getting them going on the right path for education is fun.”
Other positions you have held in education: Chartier has been a teacher for the Great Start Readiness Program, a program director for KinderCare and an athletic coach for both Cedar Springs and Rockford public schools.
How about jobs outside education? Chartier has managed a restaurant and worked as a social event coordinator for a hotel chain, planning wedding receptions, retirement parties and quinceañeras.
Her gateway job to education was driving a school bus for Rockford Public Schools: “It was kind of like running your own little mobile classroom — you have to set your guidelines and expectations. I loved it.”
What would you like to share about your family? Son, Nolan, is a freshman and daughter, Claire, is in eighth grade, both in Rockford Public Schools. “We are a busy sports family — from football to competitive cheer to everything in between.”
Hobbies/interests: “I love to read; I’ll take a book and hide in the corner on the couch when I have time. I do not like to cook. We love to walk on the White Pine Trail and down by the Rockford dam. And we love sports; any time we can catch a game — football, basketball, baseball — we like to do that. I have a cousin that plays for a farm team in the NHL, so we’ve been checking out hockey, too.”
What kind of kid were you at the age of your students? “I was a good kid; I always followed directions. I had a big imagination and loved to play pretend house and things like that. I was also very talkative. My mom still reminds me that my teachers always mentioned how much I talked.”
The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… “Especially at this age, kids just want to be loved and have somebody to pay attention to them and have a safe space to learn and explore with a little freedom. … Also, that you can make anything a learning experience with little kids. If you make it fun, they don’t realize they’re learning. There can be a lesson in every part of your classroom.”
If you could go back to school, which grade would you return to, and why? “My freshman year of high school, so that I wouldn’t be so concerned about what everybody else was doing and be brave enough to try things. I was a good student, but I just kind of focused on what I needed to do. In the back of my mind, I was always worried about the social piece of school. … In my senior year, the very last opportunity of my high school career, I ended up being in the spring play, and I loved it. I wish I would have tried other things earlier.”
If you walked into your new school building to theme music that suits your personality, what would the song be, and why? Chartier said she “listens to everything” and would have to choose depending on the day’s mood: “There could be days when I want something happy, like ‘Walking on Sunshine’ (by Katrina and the Waves); if I’m feeling a little feisty on a Friday, maybe some Beyonce. Or there are days when we’re going to listen to a bit of gospel, like, this day needs some Lauren Daigle.”