Richard W. Salo
Coopersville West Early Childhood Center and Coopersville Elementary School
Coopersville School District
Coopersville, Michigan

“Students come first, so my top priority is ensuring that they have a safe, secure, and fun place to learn and grow,” says Richard Salo. “Developing a successful learning environment requires creating a community that believes our school is simply one big family of caring individuals.” Salo has been principal of the Coopersville West Early Childhood Center and Coopersville Elementary School for the past decade. The rural site serves 585 children in preschool through grade 2. He ensures a positive learning atmosphere by communicating his high expectations to everyone in the school. He also fosters a community of leaders to help his school run well. Salo’s school has received three prestigious state awards for innovative programs that have improved student achievement. These award-winning initiatives include Road Trips Before Bedtime. This program began as a means to involve families in supporting literacy for a group of 20 at-risk students. It has since blossomed into an enrichment opportunity for more than 200 participants. Salo and his staff also developed a model intervention program for struggling learners who don’t qualify for special education services. Under Salo’s leadership, student achievement has increased steadily. Last year, 97 percent of third graders demonstrated proficiency in reading and math on state assessments. His B.S. is from Central Michigan University and his M.Ed. is from Western Michigan University.