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Soccer-loving Swiftie values students’ wisdom

Meet Your Administrator: Angie Balczak

NorthviewAngie Balczak is the new principal at North Oakview Elementary. SNN gets to know the 1998 Northview High graduate in this edition of Meet Your Administrator.

What is your career background in teaching or other education positions? Balczak planned to major in engineering in college, but needed another social studies credit her senior year. Someone suggested she join the teacher cadets. After a semester in now-retired teacher Judy Johnson’s North Oakview kindergarten class, Balczak was hooked. (She still keeps in touch with Johnson through Aldersgate United Methodist Church’s partnership with North Oakview.)

“I’d always liked kids,” she said. “But just coming here and having that experience, just something in me went ‘I think I want to do this instead.’”

  • Elementary teacher, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Elementary teacher, Northview Public Schools: Spanish, third grade, fourth grade and DK-4 math specialist
  • JV soccer coach, Northview High

What is your education background?

  • Bachelor’s degree, elementary education major with a minor in Spanish, Aquinas College
  • ELL teacher certification, Edgewood College, Wisconsin
  • Master’s degree, educational administration, Purdue University, Calumet, Indiana
Angie Balczak is North Oakview’s new principal
Angie Balczak is North Oakview’s new principal

Describe your planned leadership style: “Same as with teaching: I felt one of my biggest strengths in teaching was relationships, so just building relationships with families and staff, and understanding that I’ve been in so many shoes here. I think I have an empathetic understanding of where they’re at, and will be trying to help as best I can.”

What would you like to share about your family? She has a “very loving” gray cat, Luna.

Hobbies or interests? Balczak calls her car trunk her “summer sports locker,” and for good reason. She’s got an inflatable paddleboard, a soccer ball and other equipment at the ready. She also enjoys golf and drawing.

Your first concert: Smashing Pumpkins at Van Andel Arena

If you had to listen to one song the rest of your life: “Probably ‘All Too Well,’ 10-minute Taylor (Swift)’s version.” And yes, she did see the Eras tour in Detroit; she was in row 6.

What kind of kid were you in elementary school? ”Quiet, well-behaved, very shy, surprisingly. People who meet me as an adult are like, ‘No way.’ I was kind of that way all the way through high school. In college I came out of my shell when I studied abroad in (Málaga) Spain and had the opportunity to see the world through a different lens.”

Angie Balczak’s fourth-grade school picture (courtesy)
Angie Balczak’s fourth-grade school picture (courtesy)

Favorite teacher growing up: “Mrs. Bockheim. She was my fifth-grade teacher at St. Jude (now All Saints Academy). She was just very understanding, (and had) a bubbly personality. When I went to St. Jude and before I would walk home, even in seventh and eighth grade, I would help her after school. She helped me through some of those tough (adolescent) times. … It felt like she cared about me.”

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from students? ”Kids are a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. When I was teaching, I just loved to have those organic, deep conversations with them, hearing their inquisitive minds and what they grasp, their deep ideas and coming at them with such an empathetic viewpoint.”

Read more from Northview: 
SEALS all in, in all buildings
Wordle is a smash in this class

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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