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‘We take care of one another’

Meet Your Administrator: Kris Vydareny

Byron Center — Walking into school on the Monday before Thanksgiving, Marshall Elementary students had some questions for their principal, a.k.a. “Mr. Chicken”:

“Are you supposed to be a turkey for Thanksgiving?”

“That’s what you think the chicken dance is?”

“Are we having chicken nuggets for lunch?” 

Mr. Chicken, aka Kris Vydareny, was happy to celebrate his students reaching their fall fundraiser goal while “getting out the Mon-daze.” 

“Students raised more than ever before, so we’ve had a series of celebrations,” Vydareny said. “The fourth-graders got to vote on what I would dress as for drop-off and pick-up one day.”

SNN gets to know the man behind the beak better in this edition of Meet Your Administrator.

Other positions you have held in education:

  • Principal, Paris Ridge Elementary, in Caledonia Community Schools
  • Principal, Appleview Elementary, in Sparta Area Schools
  • Principal, Breton Downs Elementary, in East Grand Rapids Public Schools

What about jobs outside education? “Does being a father of three teenage girls count?” he asked. 

During high school, he also worked several jobs including as a server at Chili’s, a store clerk at American Eagle, a day camp counselor and newspaper delivery.


  • Bachelor’s degree in education, University of Michigan
  • Master’s degree in educational leadership, University of Phoenix
The Vydareny family, including dogs Sandy, Milo and Otis (courtesy)

What would you like to share about your family? Vydareny’s wife, Whitney, is the owner of Freshwater Whale Boutique, a children’s and women’s consignment store in Eastown. His oldest daughter, Bailey, is a sophomore at California Polytechnic State University, while younger daughters Lilly and Piper attend East Grand Rapids High School.

Hobbies/Interests/Little-known talent: Vydareny loves to cook and do the prerequisite work of grocery shopping to prepare meals for his family. He also said he plays a “mean cymbal” when his talents are requested by his school and has a song stuck in his head most of the time.

What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from students? “Meet them where they are and be the one to help them grow to reach the next step. Every student is someone’s child and you have to be able to laugh and find joy in the day to day.”

If you walked into your new school building to music that suits your personality, what would that be? “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars. “That song always makes me think of how we take care of one another in schools.”

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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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