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Principal Ken See leaving Cedar Springs

Ken See and family.

Ken See and family.

By Judy Reed

Beach Elementary Principal Ken See is leaving Cedar Springs Public Schools to be principal at Grandville Middle School.

That position will take him back to what he was originally doing when he first came to Cedar Springs almost 12 years ago.

See was hired in November 2004 as the Middle School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. “I started at the old Middle School (what is now known as Red Hawk) the day they came back from Thanksgiving Break,” he recalled.

In 2007, he became the Middle School principal, and in 2010 he moved to the high school as associate principal. Three years later, in 2013, he became principal at Beach Elementary.

“I have so many great memories,” remarked See. “Meeting the students coming from the buses every morning; middle school students and staff performing at the spring talent shows; high school and New Beginnings graduation ceremonies; all staff tailgate parties at homecoming football games; and powerful conversations with other principals around teaching and learning.”

See said he will miss the people the most. “I have made so many friendships with teachers, administrators, support staff, students and parents throughout the district. Teaching is all about relationships and I am blessed to have worked with such wonderful and dedicated people,” he remarked.

It was not an easy decision for See to make. “Leaving Cedar Springs was a difficult decision,” he explained. “I have been blessed with so many wonderful friendships, experiences and growth opportunities throughout the years. They have shaped me to be the person and professional I am today. Having a distinguished district like Grandville contact me to go through the interview process was affirming. Knowing I would be joining a team that valued my skill set and knowledge felt good. I have jokingly compared it to the feeling of being picked first for the recess kickball game. Now I am just excited to have this opportunity to start the next chapter in my professional life.”

“I feel sadness in leaving,” added See. “It’s a natural part of any change like this, but I trust that God was looking out for me with this new opportunity. I leave with best wishes and hopes for my friends and colleagues in the Cedar Springs Schools and community.”

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn had praise for See in an email she wrote to staff about his resignation. “Ken has served students, staff and families at CSPS with heart and enthusiasm. To that point, a tribute to Ken came from a graduate from 2015, Tamara Tiethoff, as she gave her graduation speech. She remarked that she always remembered Mr. See sharing each day on the morning announcements, ‘Be your best today!’ Ken’s work with students, staff and families over the years is much appreciated and won’t be forgotten,” she said. “Ken, we thank you for all you did at CSPS and we wish you the very best in your new endeavor!”

VanDuyn said plans are underway to find new leadership for Beach Elementary.

See is the second elementary principal to leave this year. Cedar View principal Andy Secor also left a vacancy at the end of the school year when he took a job at Hudsonville Public Schools.

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Cedar View principal to take job in Hudsonville

Andrew Secor

Andrew Secor

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Public Schools is saying goodbye to another administrator. Andrew Secor, principal at Cedar View and an 18-year employee of the district, is leaving to become principal at Jamestown Upper Elementary for Hudsonville Public Schools.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Cedar Springs as a coach, teacher, and principal,” said Secor.

He was just 22-years old and fresh out of college when he landed a job at Cedar Springs Public Schools as assistant varsity basketball coach to Dave Schlump.

“I coached for 14 years, six as Dave’s assistant and eight as the head coach. I was fortunate to work with so many great players, as we won 10 district titles and three league championships during that time frame. One of my favorite memories of that time was working with an amazing coach staff that had such deep Cedar Springs pride,” he remarked.

Two years after being hired as assistant basketball coach, Secor was hired as a teacher at Cedar Trails. He taught at Cedar Trails for six years, then Beach for four years. He then became assistant principal at Cedar Trails for two years, and was a principal at Cedar View for four years.

“I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of educators, and thousands of students and parents,” noted Secor. “The mark they have left on me will last forever. I have had some amazing mentors and role models from within this community that have helped to grow me as a leader and as a man.”

The Post asked what were some of Secor’s favorite moments and what will he miss? “My favorite moments are all about people,” he explained. “This is truly the best profession in the world and it’s all founded on relationships. I will remember the daily interactions with students, the great administrative team I was a part of, and working with teachers to provide the best possible education for students. The people of this community is what drew me in and the people of this community are what I will miss the most. Some of my greatest friends and mentors live right here in Cedar Springs.”

He also had some kind words for the people that work at Cedar View. “I am so proud of the staff at Cedar View. It is a talented, smart, and dedicated group that I am going to miss dearly. They bought into the vision I had for the building, we accomplished some amazing things, and they will continue to accomplish many more.”

The Post also asked Secor what words he might have for the community. “While it saddens me that many outstanding educators have left the district recently, this is a strong staff and community which will continue to serve students to the best of their ability,” he said.

How does Secor want people to remember him? “I pray that I have left a meaningful and positive impact on those around me. Through the celebrations and challenges of the last 18 years, I have always done everything I could to help students and players, both academically as well as emotionally. The reason this profession is the greatest in the world is that it is all about relationships and the daily opportunity you have to make the lives of people around you better. That is what drove me everyday, to help teachers, parents, and students, have a better life and to make Cedar Springs the best school district we possibly could be.”

Andy Secor and family

Andy Secor and family

While sad to be leaving Cedar Springs, Secor is excited about what his  new position has to offer. “It is an amazing opportunity for my family and I. Hudsonville has a dynamic administrative team, I get to work with an outstanding principal who is at Jamestown Lower Elementary, and all I hear about is how amazing the Jamestown teaching staff is. Jamestown is ranked in the 99th percentile for student achievement in the state of Michigan and I relish the opportunity to lead a new team that has already accomplished so much.”

He also said that he and his wife are excited about the academic and athletic opportunities that Hudsonville will provide their children. But he doesn’t take for granted what they have been given here.

“It has been a great place for my children to receive a high quality education, while being cared for and loved, and making lifelong friends. I don’t take for granted the impact that teachers, principals, and community members have played in helping my children to become better people. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in their lives,” he remarked.

“My family and I are excited for the next chapter of our journey as we head to Hudsonville. But Cedar Springs will forever have a place in our hearts.”

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Cedar Trails principal resigns

Longtime Cedar Trails Elementary principal Jennifer Harper with a student.

Longtime Cedar Trails Elementary principal Jennifer Harper with a student.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education approved a resolution Monday evening to enter into a separation agreement with longtime Cedar Trails Elementary principal Jennifer Harper.

Harper, who was co-principal with Mike Duffy, has been on paid administrative leave, and recently resigned. The reason for her paid leave and subsequent resignation has not been made public.

The Post has been contacted by concerned parents, who said she was there one day, and gone the next, with no explanation to staff or students and parents. “As a parent with students in the school I want to know what is going on,” wrote one parent. “This is crazy that the school district has said nothing to parents about this or anything that is going on. The kids are asking where she is.”

The Post spoke with the district office about the matter. “It’s been an ongoing personnel matter,” explained Superintendent Laura VanDuyn. “We can’t reveal the nature because it is a personnel matter. But I think it’s important to say that it’s not a matter that has to do with criminal conduct or the safety of students.”

Van Duyn said Harper was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. “We have clearly followed our district’s legal counsel in the matter,” she said.

Harper was originally hired to run the Parents as Teachers program, and then became co-principal with David Cairy.  She continued on as a principal at Cedar Trails after Cairy moved to Assistant Superintendent. Andy Secor and Mike Duffy have served as co-principals with Harper. Secor currently is principal at Cedar View.

VanDuyn said that Duffy would continue as principal at Cedar Trails and Harper would not be replaced.

While Harper said she could not discuss the terms of her resignation, she did have a statement for parents, staff and students.

“I have gladly dedicated my heart and soul to the students, staff and families of the Cedar Trails Community for the last 17 years. I have loved working with the staff, mentoring your young children, and have always supported high expectations for all. I wish only the best for CSPS and I pray for its continued success,” she said.

The Post submitted a request through the Freedom of Information Act on Monday, asking for any emails, documents, and minutes referencing the resignation of Jennifer Harper.

Harper is the second administrator to resign since the beginning of the school year. Assistant Superintendent Steve Seward resigned earlier this year.

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Principal arrested for embezzlement

By Judy Reed

Tri County Middle School principal William Robert Cichewicz was arrested last week on embezzlement charges.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, they began an investigation in February on money missing from the Booster Club Fund. Cichewicz turned himself in on June 20, and was arraigned on a five-year felony charge of embezzlement of over $1,000 but under $20,000.

Cichewicz, an employee at Tri County Schools for 13 years, was initially put on administrative leave, and then fired last week.

“As a school community, we are committed to excellence in all that we do,” stated Al Cumings, Superintendent. “This commitment means that we hold our students, staff, and, most of all, our leadership accountable for behaviors and choices that do not reflect our community values.”

Cumings noted that Cichewicz accepted the termination and had made full restitution. “I am pleased that in addition to owning his decisions and paying back the missing funds, Mr. Cichewicz also has released a public letter of apology to the community that is on the district web site (www.tricountyschools.com),” said Cumings. You can also view it here.

In his letter, Cichewicz acknowledged that he had made serious mistakes and violated the community’s trust over the last year. “In my role as principal, I had access to booster funds that were acquired from the school store. Over a period of months, as I collected and took those funds to the bank, I was tempted by the money that was available and I began to take some each time. Ultimately, I took $1,350 of booster money to benefit myself,” he wrote. He added that his family knew nothing about what he was doing, and that he planned to return the funds immediately. He also said he felt horrible about what he did.

Cichewicz served as a teacher, vice-principal, and principal while employed at Tri County.

He posted a $2,000 bond and has a pretrial date of July 2 and a preliminary exam on July 3.

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