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Meet Reach Principal Jennifer Perkins

Principal Jennifer Perkins took a rather unconventional route to her current role as principal at Reach Charter Academy, but one that has served her well. More on that in a moment, as she likes to talk about her students and their futures first.
 
“I want every student to know they are cared about, that their success matters, and their futures matter.” Principal Perkins knows the importance of creating the right environment for every child, one that is a safe place to make mistakes. “Learning can be messy, but it’s in the mistakes where we do the learning. When a child has the confidence and support to make a mistake… and learn from it, we all win.”
 
This type of environment is possible because it’s constructed like a family. She likes to point out the importance of establishing clear expectations for everyone. When expectations are agreed upon, the learning process becomes a much more positive experience. She also relies on data that helps her team steer toward success and away from problems before they get a chance to grow. “We have specific tools that help us manage and monitor social and emotional behaviors just like we have tools to help us manage academic growth and improvement.” This level of insight brings us back to how Principal Perkins arrived at this point in the first place.

As a young professional she was building her career in retail management and realized she wanted more time at home with her family. She left the business world behind and started her own daycare, which then ignited a desire to go back to school and become a teacher. She did her student teaching at Timberland Charter Academy (an NHA school in Muskegon, Michigan) and then taught third grade there for four years. Then a unique opportunity came along that in retrospect, became the perfect runway to her role today.
 
She was offered a position at National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) Service Center where she joined the Coaching and Learning Team. She became instrumental in developing and training teachers within NHA and learning what resources and training were most helpful. She led major learning platforms like the New Teacher Summit, the Leadership Summit and other internal training-based platforms like NHA University.
 
Now armed with classroom experience and valuable leadership insights she was uniquely positioned to go back to a school setting. She became a Dean at Reach Charter Academy for five and a half years before accepting her current position as Principal. She’s grateful that she followed her heart to work with children and to be part of their lifelong learning adventure.

Did You Know?
A few facts
  • She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Literacy from Grand Valley State University and her Administrative Certificate through Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals
  • During the pandemic lockdown, two of her granddaughters (ages 7 and 9) came to live with her so they could attend virtual classrooms from Reach Charter Academy.
  • She and her husband have two daughters (one living in San Diego and the other in Grand Rapids), four granddaughters and have been parents to five foster children.
  • She enjoys reading, yoga, running, pickle-ball, and hosting “Grand Camp” for her grandchildren each summer.