Eric's Epic EdVenture

Across the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula holds the Les Cheneaux Islands along the northern shore of Lake Huron—a boater’s paradise of pristine waters and hidden bays about 30 miles south of the Canadian Border! It also is the home of Les Cheneaux Community Schools, with 240 kindergarten through 12th grade students. The district is led by Mr. Randy Schaedig who, up until this year served as K–12 principal AND superintendent! Although he notes that the number of roles he and others have to fill can be daunting with multiple hats that have to be worn, Randy gives his staff complete credit, noting that people always step forward to meet the challenges! The community is particularly proud of the recent passage of a bond issue to improve the school’s facility for students.

Randy notes that the area has had difficulty in recruiting teachers in the area of math, and he attributes that to stagnant teaching wages across the state as well as the loss of teacher pensions. He also stressed during our discussion the importance that Title II serves his building, providing principal/teacher professional development and a content coach.

Despite these challenges, Randy places a strong emphasis on being in the classroom. We donned “Cat in the Hat” gear and read to Kindergartners during the visit before the 4th graders said goodbye at the end of the tour.

A little more than an hour down US 2, was the second stop of the day at Engadine Consolidated Schools. Engadine has 262 K–12 students in their district. Engadine’s elementary principal/superintendent (see a trend in rural schools?) had a meeting—however, I had an opportunity to meet their 7–12 principal: Josh Reed. Josh is in his first full year as an administrator and has tremendous enthusiasm for his position.

During our visit together, he noted the difficulty that their district has attracting art, music, and science teachers over the last couple of years. It is important for administrators to strike a work/life balance, but Josh takes it in stride, saying that playing music relaxes him. Welcome to the profession Josh! We are happy to have you here with us!

Tomorrow brings us to another state in this Epic Ed-Venture! Have a great Friday—make each moment count!

Eric Cardwell is President of NAESP, and Principal of Besser Elementary School in Alpena, Michigan.