Putting Together the Pieces

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It's that time of year when students are stocking up on number two pencils and parents are breathing a sigh of relief–school is starting! But while moms and dads may have it easier with kids back in school all day, this is the busy season for teachers and principals like Muskegon's Glenside Elementary School Principal Diane Aamondt. Diane coordinates early education in her building like head start, pre-kindergarten, and the Great Start Readiness Program, as well as a special education program. Fitting together the pieces of the school-day puzzle is what Diane loves and moves her closer to the ultimate goal–making sure her students are getting the best of the best.

Diane studied teaching and administration at Northern Michigan University. After teaching in Green Bay, she moved back to Michigan to work full time for the university. Diane took on the role of principal in her hometown six years ago, and she couldn't be more proud to represent the district that gave her a personal start in education.

"I'm a product of Muskegon Public Schools. I have a passion for Muskegon Public Schools, and I believe in the system. It's just exciting to come back and work in the district I went to school in," Diane says.

Even though it's a thrill to work where she once studied, being a principal isn't always easy. Diane works with staff management and contract negotiations. There are audits for which to prepare and standards to meet. Diane says because the school is funded by the state and my federal dollars, they are "always in evaluation and review mode." Even though this requires meticulous planning, Diane doesn't mind dotting ever I and cross every T.

"That's ok because if that's going to make sure our kids are getting everything they should, then that's why we're here," she says.

Thankfully, Diane is involved in a district-wide mentorship program through which she receives training and on-going support for her role. No matter the workload, it's the simple things that make the job worthwhile for Diane.

"There's nothing better than going into a classroom and having a little one give me a great big smile and hugs. When they put that puzzle together and give you a grin, it's like, yeah, that's what this is all about. It’s pretty cool," Diane says.

Even though she pours her heart into her work, Diane does take time for herself. She starts every morning with exercise whether it is a walk on the treadmill or a ride on her bike. When she has a little time off, she likes to escape to her cabin in Baldwin with her husband.

"He's a big support, and we always make time for each other because that is important," Diane says.

Diane doesn't take her support systems for granted. Between her home life and her work life, she is grateful for a team that pulls together, especially in the busiest of times.

"I have an unbelievable staff. They're the ones doing all the day-to-day work, and I try to support them the best I can. They're the ones that are building those bright futures for tomorrow," she says.

Written by: Erika Fifelski is West Michigan Woman magazine's editorial coordinator. She was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys gardening, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. Photo provided by Diane Aamodt

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