By Sue Moore
Returning students in Schoolcraft will see a host of new faces at the administration level this year with changes everywhere except at the top. Superintendent Rusty Stitt will start his fourth year at the helm.
New middle school principal, Dave Powers, comes from Hudsonville near Holland, where he served as principal. He lives in Battle Creek so this will be a closer drive and a new challenge. “I’ve immersed myself in the Schoolcraft culture and climate already, and find that wonderful things are happening here. With the Leader in Me program introduced by Amie McCaw, I find the students have learned to take ownership of their life, where the teachers are not the taskmasters, they have become the facilitators. They can help students get ready for vocations we don’t even know exist today,” he said.
Chris Ebsh, who was the middle school principal, has moved to the early elementary to work with Amie Goldschmeding and take charge of technology support throughout the system as director of innovation in teaching and learning.
To take McCaw’s place in elementary school, the district has hired Matt Webster from Huntley, Ill. His wife’s parents live at Gull Lake, so he has family close by. “I’ve found that Schoolcraft is friendly, a tight-knit community with lofty goals and exciting people to work with who are driven to do good things,” he said. “This community values education and wants to make great things happen.”
Ric Seager, the high school’s principal is not quite as new, since he started mid-year in 2014-15, replacing Kristin Flynn. There have been five different principals in four years, so he said it was important to respect the work done before him by being deliberate about any changes. “I’ve been able to identify where the challenges are and put an emphasis this year on our Middle College offering that Schoolcraft pioneered as part of KRESA’s desire to offer students an associate’s degree from KVCC through four years of high school and one year of advance degree studies in arts and letters. There is a significant cost savings to the students if they choose to go in this direction,” he said.
Ebsch started the pioneer offering in the middle school by planting the seed in 2014-15. Students will be able to move into high school, already thinking about what career path they might like to take. He uses the analogy of a tree with a sturdy trunk, which has branches reaching out in several directions. “It matters that the student in this program is on a path with the tree trunk being the solid foundation and the branches offering a strong skill set, to be sure of what is needed in the work world,” he said.
There is another big change at the high school level with Jeff Clark as athletic director, taking over for Doug Flynn who was AD for two years. Clark is the middle school science teacher and will continue in that role while taking over as AD half days. He also coached in the middle school so is familiar with what the coaches need in the way of support. “The life lessons learned on the on the athletic field will be useful in the student’s career later in life because of the successes they have had in Schoolcraft’s athletics,” he pointed out.
Since Schoolcraft has gone all electronic with iPads throughout, the next step was to build a course management system online, according to Ebsch and Seager. Students, parents, and teachers will now have resources electronically at their fingertips. This includes the ability to turn in assignments electronically with weekly learning targets set out by their teachers online. Grades for all assignments will be posted online. Students will be able to message their teachers and take tests online as well. “They will be able to get quicker feedback from teachers with these tools that help students and parents. It’s a journey in the learning process,” said Clark.