Member Spotlight

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. These members exemplify
the mission of the MASSP: to advance learning through educational leadership.

Do you or someone you know deserve the spotlight, please fill out this Google Form.

Questions? Please contact Chelsey Martinez at chelseym@michiganprincipals.org



Dave Feenstra, Principal, Hudsonville High School

How long have you worked in education?
30 years

How long have you been an administrator?
25 years

Give us a few personal details.
Dawn and I have been married for 29 years. We have two kids: Ellen is a NICU nurse at DeVos Children's Hospital and Daniel is a Senior at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. We enjoy traveling to National Parks. I love riding my black cherry Harley Davidson Street Glide around our beautiful State.

Tell us about a program/initiative at your school that you are proud of.
Our LINKS Program has changed the culture of our school and how we embrace and support students with special needs. We offer LINKS as a course each trimester. Currently we have over 60 students in our LINKS Program throughout our school.

LINKS (Peer-to-Peer Support) elective course/credit programs represent one model of 21st century instructional design that incorporates applied (experiential) learning in a non-traditional manner. Peer–to-Peer support (the evidence- and research-base common name) or peer-mediated learning is well documented as an evidence-based practice for pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2010; National Standards Project, 2010).

The general education student (LINK) enrolled in LINKS is a mentor, role model, and coach to a student with a special need or ability. In this role, the LINK is assigned a student for a minimum of one class period per day. The LINK peer will assist the student in such areas as appropriate classroom behavior, organization of assignments and materials, and reading social cues. The LINK attends biweekly case conferences to discuss the progress of their student, and contributes ideas on how to more effectively help the student progress toward his/her goals.

During a typical school week, the LINK is required to study online reading materials related to students with special needs and abilities and learn strategies for working with students.

This program has positively impacted our school far beyond our initial intentions. Our Special needs students are connected, respected, and loved by our student body. I am happy to share our LINKS program with anyone interested.

What advice would you have for those who are new to the Principalship?
As you know being a principal is more than just a job. It is a way of life for an individual that is challenging, physically and mentally, demanding, unending, irritating, frustrating, painful, consuming and overwhelming. It is also one of the most fulfilling and rewarding lifestyles a person can have.

This quote from Teddy Roosevelt really communicates what it takes as secondary principals to meet the educational challenges of the 21st Century.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

The best assets available for your success as a principal are your colleagues in the field. You will have some difficult days in this profession and your peers will be the "game changers" for you in the most challenging times. Be intentional about meeting with area principals at least monthly and attend MASSP professional development to proactively lead your school. Acknowledging, admiring, and emulating the passion, innovation, and servant leadership of your colleagues in the principalship will guide you as you strive to address the needs of every student, every day.



Donovan Rowe, Principal, Huron High School

How long have you worked in education?
19 years

How long have you been an administrator?
9 years

Give us a few personal details.
I have a wonderful wife, Cathy, and four great children, ages 17, 15, 14, and 10.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
The job of a Learning Leader never ends. We are constantly learning new things and working to provide the best education for students, while the landscape continues to evolve. However, this very challenge helps to keep one sharp and proactive, rather than dull and reactive.

What is most rewarding about your job?
I think the most rewarding part about being is a principal is the impact that one can have on students, families, and the staff. I love to see the community grow together, and I get to see it happen in a new way every year.

Tell us about a program/initiative at your school that you are proud of.
The Link Crew program has had a great impact on Huron High School. We had a great team consisting of two teachers, a counselor, and the high school assistant principal, who work to train students to help make HHS a more inviting and welcoming place. The kids have done a great job to make people feel welcome.

What advice would you have for those who are new to the Principalship?
You don't have all the answers. Remember, the most successful people realize their challenges and rely on the people around them for support. If you are able to empower others and to set up supports to monitor their success, you will find that your school will thrive.

What is something you are working on or hoping to implement in the near future?
I would like to delve deeper into the realm of intervention. We have worked hard to provide students with highly effective classroom instruction and classroom interventions. The next step is to provide strong tiered intervention to assist students in a proactive way.

Tell us about a training or book you've read recently that you found to be beneficial.
I recently read Leading With Focus by Mike Schmoker. It was a great read. It really challenged me to simplify and to focus my attention on what matters. It has been a great addition to our department head and school improvement team discussions.



Carrie Balk, Principal, Three Rivers High School

How long have you worked in education?
15 years

How long have you been an administrator?
4 years

Give us a few personal details.
My husband, Bryan, and I have two children - Brayden (age 10) and Collin (age 8).

What do you find most challenging about your job?
With an ever increasing population of at-risk students in my building, I am faced with poverty and homelessness daily. My challenge - meeting the academic needs of students who have significant barriers to education.

What is most rewarding about your job?
Staff and students! This job is challenging, but I'm fortunate to work with an amazing group of educators and students who consistently demonstrate respect, responsibility and resilience.

What advice would you have for those who are new to the Principalship?
Sense of Humor - REQUIRED!

What is something you are working on or hoping to implement in the near future?
I'm interested in the Khan Academy Challenge.

Tell us about a training or book you've read recently that you found to be beneficial.
Having Difficult Conversations by Jennifer Abrams



Todd Simmons, Principal, Pewamo-Westphalia MS/HS

How long have you worked in education?
A total of 16 years = 3 years @ PW MS/HS as Industrial Ed. Teacher/JVFB Coach/VBBB Asst. Coach, 2 years @ Central Michigan Univ. as Asst. Mens' Basketball Coach, 2 years @ Tri County MS as Industrial Ed. Teacher/JVFB Coach/MSBBB Coach, and 9 years as PW MS/HS Principal (also served as AD for 5 years)

How long have you been an administrator?
This will be my 10th year in school leadership.

Give us a few personal details.
I am married to my beautiful wife of 7 years (Lindsey), and blessed w/ 3 children: Ronni (5), Braidi (2), and Ty (12 weeks). I love working w/ kids, exercising, playing hoops, and spending time w/ my Family (especially back home in da U.P.)

What do you most value about your MASSP membership?
The thing I value most about my MASSP membership is the professional learning/growth I have experienced through the organization - the PD and supports are unparalleled.

Tell us about a program/initiative at your school that you are proud of.
The program I am most proud of at Pewamo-Westphalia MS/HS is our PLANK peer mentoring program. It has had a significant impact on not only our culture, but moreover, our students' social/emotional/mental safety and mindset PLANK is student-created, student-owned, student-led, and student-focused.

What advice would you have for those who are new to the Principalship?
My advice for any individual that is new to school leadership would be to focus on your daily process rather than overall results by expecting an authentic champion process every day, the results will come as a by product.



Brian Morrison, Assistant Principal, Hamilton Middle School

How long have you worked in education?
16 total years in education: 15 years as a Business teacher at Hamilton High School and 1 year as Assistant Principal at Hamilton Middle School.

How long have you been an administrator?
This will be my second year as an Assistant Principal.

Give us a few personal details.
My wife, Kristen, and I live in the Hamilton community with our two sons Bryce (9) and Chase (7). I love bass fishing on the local lakes, and salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. Our family enjoys the outdoors and have started hammock camping for the last few years.

What do you most value about your MASSP membership?
Being new to school administration, I have a lot of things I need to learn quickly. My membership has given me great opportunities to learn more about my new role by providing legal updates, principal checklists throughout the year, access to the Path to Leadership program, and conferences such as EdCon. MASSP conferences have also connected me with some outstanding administrators from around the state who have been more than willing to share their knowledge with me. It has been a wonderful resource for me to grow as an administrator.

What is most rewarding about your job?
For many years I believed that becoming an administrator would also mean I would lose the relationship piece with students; something I loved the most about being in the classroom. I have found the opposite to be true. As assistant principal, I actually have better relationships with students who probably need it the most. I am able to work individually with these students, which is something I couldn't always do in a classroom setting.

Tell us about a training or book you've read recently that you found to be beneficial.
Last year, I read "Lost at School" by Dr. Ross Greene. This book gave me a new perspective on why students act out in school. I used to believe students do well in school if they chose to do well. I now have learned that some students haven't fully developed the necessary skills needed to be successful in a school setting. It's not actually a choice they are making. By changing my lens, I now feel I am better able to understand and help those students that struggle.