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New principal welcomed at North Sashabaw

Tara Ouellette, North Sashabaw Elementary principal. (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011 - When Tara Ouellette pictured her ideal job and dream community, she envisioned Clarkston Community Schools.

"I always knew Clarkston was a wonderful community," she said, explaining both she and her husband grew up in Rochester and have friends and family in Clarkston.

Then, she saw the posting for a principal for North Sashabaw Elementary and couldn't believe it. She applied, was hired, and started in the spring.

Ouellette brings to North Sashabaw not only excitement but also her collaborative nature.

"The quality I bring is openness," she said. "I want to hear from the parents. Not only do I want to build relationships with the staff and the students but also the parents. I want them to feel open enough to share their thoughts and concerns. Families are as much a part of our North Sashabaw community as the students."

As she gets to know families, she already has gotten to know the staff. She reached out to the staff during the summer, calling them and asking them what they wanted for the future.

"They gave me a shirt with a North Sashabaw Elementary emblem on it," she smiled. "They welcomed me with open arms and said 'we are here to do whatever it takes for you to be successful.' It is a pretty awesome statement. They are a very professional, very smart and talented staff."

Ouellette started as a teacher 13 years ago in West Bloomfield, teaching at both the upper elementary and lower elementary levels. Last year she added literacy coach to her resume while she was working in Huron Valley Schools. She has also been on different committees, adding to her vast experience.

She never thought about leaving the classroom because she always wanted to teach. It was encouragement from other teachers and administrators seeing the leader within her when she took another look.

"I realized a broader perspective of what it takes to make a broader difference," she said. "I knew I could make a greater impact on student learning if I led a building rather than stay in the classroom."

Her primary goal is to make sure all the students leaving elementary school are reading at high levels. Another goal is to build relationships and spend time with the parents and the community.

"It isn't just about academics," Ouellette added. "I am offering being connected with the community."

She has only been in the district for a few months and is enjoying being a part of the Wolfpack.

"I believe I am coming in at a really wonderful time," she said, adding Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock, Deputy Superintendent Shawn Ryan, and the administrative team have been supportive and open her ideas.

"They are creating a way for me to be the best I can be," she said.

Ouellette understands the importance of family. She and her husband have three sons, two started at Pine Knob Elementary and the youngest is attending Funshine.

"My family is a huge part of what allows me to be successful," she added.

She also has a love for playing sports and has played soccer and softball. Right now her outlet to relax is yoga.

For the last 10 years she has participated in the annual Wish A Mile, the 300-mile bike ride for the Make A Wish foundation.

"I use a lot of energy training for it," she said. "I love any fundraising event that is helping kids."

Along with spending time with family and friends she takes time to for gardening, reading and learning what else she can do to be a great leader.

"I am excited to be part of the Clarkston community," Ouellette said. "Now it is not just participating in the community events, which I already had done but I can help to make Clarkston more of an amazing place than it already is. Great things are happening with Clarkston and I am really blessed to be a part of the mission and vision."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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