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‘Every day can be a better day’

Meet Your Administrators: Ahnna Sisco, Orlando James and Joe Marsiglia

KentwoodNew elementary school deans Ahnna Sisco, Orlando James and Joe Marsiglia are getting to know their students at Endeavor, Glenwood and Explorer Elementary schools. 

SNN gets to know them in this edition of Meet Your Administrators

Name: Ahnna Sisco

School: Endeavor Elementary School 

Other positions you have held in education:

  • First-grade teacher, River City Scholars Charter Academy
  • Third-grade teacher, Brookwood Elementary and second-grade teacher, Challenger Elementary

How about jobs outside education?

“I was a waitress in college at Great Lakes Shipping Co.”

Education/degrees: 

Sisco, a graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School where her mother just retired as a teacher after 42 years, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Western Michigan University, and a masters in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University. 

Spouse/children:

Husband, Brian, and two sons: Judah, 5; and Bodhi, 1.

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: “I love gardening. I like to read. If I have extra time, I spend it with my kids doing their hobbies. I am a volunteer usher at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.”

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? Sisco said she was a theater kid in elementary school “Theater goes hand-in-hand with teaching, being able to do improv, constantly performing!” 

Ahnna Sisco as a child, who was ‘always performing’ (courtesy)

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is…  

“A lesson I’ve learned can be put into words by the quote by poet Maya Angelo: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ 

“That really hits home for me.”

If I could go back to school I would go to  “kindergarten… I would love to start over and do it all over again. There were so many special memories from each grade.”

If you walked into your new school building to theme music by a favorite artist or band, what would it be?

“Definitely ‘Sunday Best’ by Surfaces

As the song goes: “Every day can be a better day despite the challenges. All you have to do is leave it better than you found it.”

Orlando James, new Glenwood dean

Name: Orlando James

School: Glenwood Elementary School

Other positions you have held in education:

  • Behavioral interventionist, Glenwood
  • Director, ARCH after-school program 

“My first, first job in education was an after-school program at Ottawa Hills High School called Loft (Learning Opportunities for Teens), which was like a high school version of ARCH. We focused on credit recovery, testing strategies, did mock job interviews, resumes and helped students prepare to enter the workforce and do well.” 

How about jobs outside education?

“I was in business management. I was a store manager for a retail pharmacy chain for a decade.”

Education/degrees:

A 1998 East Kentwood grad, James has an undergraduate degree in business management and a master’s in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University.

Spouse/children:  Daughter, Aniyah, 14; and identical twin boys, Braylon and Carter, 9.

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent:

I’m a drummer on the side,” James said. “I’ve got a band, called Bedrock The Foundation, and move around a bit playing festivals/shows. I’ve been playing the drums since I was 8 or 9, and started at church.” 

 What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school? “I was the same as I am now. I was very much into music and sports. I remember all the days I spent outside, bike riding and playing.”

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is… “Definitely continue to learn and to be open-minded to other perspectives. Listen to their ideas and perspectives, as kids will often tell you the best method to reach them.

“When we look at the teacher evaluation system, highly effective is when students have bought into your system and are facilitating the learning, fun and other aspects of their days.”

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I would go to  “12th grade. By then you knew you were going to make it. You had everything behind you—12th grade was cruise control. All the hard work had paid off.”

Joe Marsiglia, new Explorer dean

Name: Joe Marsiglia

School: Explorer Elementary 

Other positions you have held in education:

  • Physical education teacher for four years at the elementary and middle-school level in Kentwood Public Schools
  • Remote fifth-grade teacher during the pandemic, Explorer 
  • School Within A School Program lead teacher and in-school suspension coordinator, Kelloggsville Middle School
  • Varsity football coach, Wyoming High School and Kenowa Hills High School, and JV girls’ basketball and middle school girls’ soccer coach, Kelloggsville Public Schools

How about jobs outside education?

  • Retail manager and store director, Steve & Barry’s and Eddie Bauer

Education/degrees:

Marsiglia earned an undergraduate degree in physical education and history at Central Michigan University, and a masters in educational leadership at Cornerstone University. He graduated from East Kentwood High School in 2004.

Spouse/children: 

Wife, Elizabeth; daughter, Eleanor, 4; and son, Malachi, 2

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent:

“I collect sports cards. I love coffee. I’m getting more into reading and I’m a history buff.”

What kind of kid were you at the age of students at this new school?

“I was very active. I loved sports. I helped out with the student council. I really enjoyed my elementary career at Glenwood Elementary. I was at Glenwood the other day and I could remember the halls.”

A special childhood memory: Joe Marsiglia’s father and Joe, as a young boy, pose with former University of Michigan head football coach, Lloyd Carr

The biggest lesson you have learned from students is…

“To enjoy everybody and embrace the diversity we have there. That is one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Kentwood: having grown up here and now, it’s even more diverse. All the cultures are so phenomenal.”

Finish this sentence: If I could go back to school I would go to … “Fifth grade. I enjoyed the fifth-grade field day and mileage club.” Marsiglia once ran his own mileage club with physical education students.  

If you walked into your new school building to theme music by a favorite artist or band, what would it be?

“‘Pump it Up’ by Endore. They played it at Michigan football games. Kids like it and it’s easy to catch on to.”

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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

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