Member Spotlight: Brett Pedersen

Chelsey Martinez's picture

We want to share good news about education! MASSP is turning the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their school, district and community. Spotlighted members exemplify the mission of the MASSP: To advance learning through educational leadership.

Brett Pedersen, Assistant Principal, Mill Creek Middle School - Dexter

How long have you worked in education?
14 years

How long have you been an administrator?
7 years

Give us a few personal details.
I met my wife Shannon in kindergarten and we now have two wonderful kids. Aria is four and loves pre-school and anything related to art. Sawyer is a one year old currently learning the fine art of being mischievous. My family centers me and helps me prioritize what is important in life. When not at school or spending time with my family I teach group fitness classes at our local wellness center. I also enjoy mountain biking during the warm months and cross country skiing when the snow flies.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
I think one of the biggest challenges emerging for districts across the state and country is the rise of mental health issues with our students and how to best support them. Washtenaw County has seen a continuous rise of students battling depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation over the years. It is a deeply concerning trend and one that schools, hospitals, and mental health organizations are working hard to address in a more effective fashion.

What is most rewarding about your job?
It may sound cliche but the most rewarding part of my job is working with people. I enjoy working with students and seeing them grow from an academic, social, and emotional standpoint. We have an incredible staff at Mill Creek that is my second family. It is extremely motivating to work with such an incredible group of educators. I also enjoy working with parents in a team approach to support their child's journey through education. Our community is special and I enjoy having an active and meaningful role in it.

Tell us about a program/initiative at your school that you are proud of.
In the last two years we have made a huge push with PBL and personalized learning. Last year we piloted a personalized learning platform through Summit Learning. The possibilities with this delivery of instruction are very exciting. I've never seen a tool that allows teachers to truly personalize and differentiate learning like the Summit Platform. The focus is on students developing cognitive skills along with the content knowledge we've always covered. The teacher's role is truly that of facilitator and the student ownership over their own learning is impressive. We are teaching students to be good problem solvers rather than just teaching kids how to be "good at school". Administrators at all levels will appreciate that Summit Learning's platform, training, and support is free to those that apply and are accepted into their program.

What advice would you have for those who are new to the Principalship?
My best advice I have for anyone entering the profession is to listen really well and lose any ego that you had. You don't get respect from your job title but rather your actions. You earn the most points with your staff, students, and parents by rolling your sleeves up and working alongside them. You build a bridge with kids when you take the time to truly listen to them. You gain trust with parents when you approach student discipline as an opportunity to learn rather than something punitive. You develop a building of collaboration and cohesiveness when you allow staff to have power and decision making ability. You earn credibility from your custodial staff when you pick up the garbage bags in the lunchroom with them. People want to see that you're in the trenches with them. Be prepared to get those new shiny administrator suits dirty!

What is something you are working on or hoping to implement in the near future?
Our focus right now is really on making problem based learning a foundation of the way we teach. We want kids to truly develop the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. The jobs of the future will be seeking employees that are innovative, resourceful, collaborative, and resilient. I see this as our focus now and in the future.

Tell us about a training or book you've read recently that you found to be beneficial.
I've always found EdCon and other MASSP sponsored sessions to be highly beneficial and well worth my time for professional growth and development. Most recently, I found the Summit Learning Leadership Training to be very helpful and insightful for implementing our pilot program on the personalized learning platform.

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Questions? Please contact Chelsey Martinez at