MEMSPA: A Community of Principals

We are a community of principals dedicated to advocating, leading and learning. We recognize the evolving nature of the principal’s role and support those committed to this important work. All who share in our purpose are welcome to join. Find out more about MEMSPA here.


  • The Kid From The Other Side Of The Tracks

    • Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    • Ben Gilpin

    One of my favorite movies (and stories) around the Holidays is The Polar Express.  I could relate to the young man and his struggles to believe.  It took me back to my youth and some of my internal struggles.  I've watched The Polar Express at least a dozen times and read the book probably double that.  Recently I began paying a little closer attention to a separate storyline.  I watched and tried to better understand, the kid from the other side of the tracks.  At first I simply thought he was scared. But after watching I could tell, he was broken.  The boy had lost a lot of hope.    

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  • Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

    • Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    • Ben Gilpin

    This past week I had the good fortune of listening and learning from one of the greats... @ToddWhitaker.  The title of this post was a quote from the beginning of his keynote.   During Todd's Keynote I heard several quotes that I wanted to tweet, but couldn't get myself to take 10 seconds and stop listening.  I did jot down several quotes, and here they are:   "We give negative people the power to ruin our day." "Great teachers have an intention behind every action they do."

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  • A Boy and his Bike

    • Thursday, November 20, 2014
    • Jonathon Wennstrom

    During our Curriculum Night, I noticed a boy riding his bike near the entry way to the school.  Later as the Magic Show was going on in the gym for the students, I noticed him again riding his bike in front of the building, trying to catch a glimpse of the show.  This event was for Rosedale families only and I didn't recognize this boy.  I went outside and in my stern principal voice (yes, I do have one:) I told him that this was a school event and that bikes needed to be walked, not ridden when near the school entrance.  I got a blank stare from the child and he walked his bike away from the school.  I then walked back into the night's event feeling pleased with myself for doing my principal duty on this potential ruffian.   Two weeks later, there was a report of one of our students hanging out unsupervised at the school with the boy on the bike again.  Trouble, I thought! However, through the course of the investigation on who this boy was, it was suggested that this might be the boy whose father had passed away recently and didn't have anywhere to go after school.  I stopped in my tracks...had I prejudged this boy and had I come into the situation with a predetermined idea that he was a trouble maker?  I'm embarrassed to say "yes" to both of those questions.  I started to think of all the times I had gotten on my bike for a long ride when things were troubling me as a middle school student.  Was that this child? After a lot more investigating and calls to several schools by myself and others, it was found out that this was not the boy whose father had recently passed away, but was at a private school and had no friends his own age in the neighborhood.  Part of me breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn't been the boy who had suffered that terrible loss and even justified to myself that I had done the right thing in the first place.   However, the more I thought about the situation, the more upset I was with myself.  I had prejudged this child, regardless of the situation.  Yes, I need to keep my school and students safe, but how did I approach the situation? Maybe this child had a set of circumstances that caused him to be riding his bike each evening by the school.  And how about the next child that I chase off the playground? Am I comfortable coming in with a preconceived notion about them (and their family for allowing them to be unsupervised)? Or worse yet, not really caring either way about their situation as long as they stay clear of "my school".  That's not the kind of principal I want to be and that's not the kind of person I want to be.  Yes, I can still keep the school safe and yes, I can make sure students aren't running around unsupervised, but I could approach them with the idea that everyone has a story (because they do).  I guess I needed to be reminded of that and my reminder came in the form of a boy and his bike...   Educational Twitter Account @jon_wennstrom Follow my blog at   PEARLS OF WISDOM   "Riding a race bike is an art - a thing that you do because you feel something inside." Valentino Rossi "I'm going to do as much as I can with this life, and then I'm going to make sure to take some time off and be simple and ride my bike and hang out with friends." Jill Scott "I can think. I can sleep. I can move. I can ride my bike. I can dream." Bill Walton

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A teacher needs a sub. What do you do?
Rest assured that one of the dozens on the list can handle it.
Pray our one sub isn't already working.
Prep to spend the day in the classroom.

Meetings & Events


Wednesday, December 3 - Friday, December 5, 2014  |  Traverse City, MI

National Experts  |  Michigan Practitioners  |  Professional Connections
Designed to offer elementary and middle level administrators a broad range of current topics necessary for continued professional growth, MEMSPA's Annual Conference is a national caliber event right here in Michigan.