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Our Leadership

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Holly Hillary, Principal


Michigan State University: Bachelor of Science, Psychology
Michigan State University: Master's Degree, Educational Leadership

Previous experience

I was at Vanguard Charter Academy for 5 years, holding the positions of middle school math teacher, middle school dean and supervisor. I was then an assistant principal at Brooklyn Excelsior for 2-1/2 years, an assistant principal at Vista Charter Academy for 2-1/2 years, and then the principal in residence at Timberland for a half year.

What do you like most about working here?

Making a difference in students' lives.​

Personal information

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, and still live in the area. I enjoy running and spending time with my family.


Tamela Brown, Dean of Middle School


  • Bachelors Degree in Bio-Medical Sciences from Western Michigan University
  • Master Degree in Education in Library Science/Media Technology from Grand Valley State University
  • Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University
  • Certification: Biology grades 6-12, Library Science grades K-12, Administration grades K-12
  • Currently pursuing a PhD. in Educational Leadership

Previous Experience

I have been in the education field for over 13 years and have served in various capacities. I have been a Principal, School Librarian, Leadership Coach, Curriculum Specialist, Biology teacher, sports coach and a parent.
I enjoy leading professional development training, engaging students in understanding who they are and their academic data to reach their full potential, and helping teachers to be effective in order to improve student achievement.

Why did you choose education as a profession?

There were a few teachers (including my mother) in my life who had a profound impact on my future, my challenging my thinking, my beliefs about myself and pushing me to rise above my current situation. Growing in a small town, in a single-parent household, and in poverty, the school provided lessons and experiences that open the world up to me. Through these outlets I began to see my life and the endless possibilities of a great future. I know first hand how influential a school (and it's teachers, deans, principals, etc.) can be in a child's life. I believe I bring the right influence to education.

Personal Information

I have been happily married to Kenya Brown for 13 years (as of August 2015). We met in college at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. We now live in Grand Rapids, MI with our 5 children - Kenyae, Nathan, Reign, Najonana, and Daron. I am excited to join the River City Scholars Team and work with the students and families of River City!


Julie Schrot, Dean of Lower Elemetary


  • Bachelors of Performance Theater from the University of Michigan
  • Masters of Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix
  • Early Childhood Education Specialist from Saginaw Valley State University

Previous education experience and number of years in the field:

Mrs. Schrot taught kindergarten for nine years with NHA and spent one year in fourth grade at Forest Hills Public Schools.

What do you like most about working here?

I love the moral focus theme at NHA. Teaching kids to be good humans has an entirely different feel than just creating good students. River City Scholars allows me to work with an at-risk student population where my belief in excellence and the ability of every child to achieve success transcends environmental factors and gets down to the core mission of empowering our youth to face the ever-growing challenges of the 21st century!


Mrs. Schrot lives with her wonderful husband, two incredible children, and mini shih-tzu, Lola. She likes to read, play at the beach, golf, and go for walks with friends. Mrs. Schrot loves people and spending time with family and friends. She is often caught driving her children and their friends to sporting events and practices. Eventually, when her kids go to college, she plans to spend free time relaxing on the beach or simply enjoying a sunset from the back patio - with her husband and Lola, of course!

Julie Zirille, Dean of Intervention


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Baldwin-Wallace College
  • Graduate Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University


Previous education experience and number of years in the field:

I have been in the field of education for 15 years.  I taught at the kindergarten and first grade levels for 7 years.  I was a dean for 4 years and a principal for 3 years.  This year I relocated to the Grand Rapids area and now serve as a dean at River City.

Why did you choose education as a career?

I chose education as a career because I enjoy being with students each day.  This career is challenging and each day is different.  It is exciting to inspire and motive students to be the best they can be.  Working through challenges and celebrating successes is the best part of my job!         


I am originally from Ohio, but I love living in Michigan now!  I enjoy the outdoors, traveling, photography, and scrapbooking.

James Wagner, Dean of Upper Elementary


  • Grand Valley State University: Bachelors of Science: K-8 Self Contained Elementary Education, K-12 P.E.
  • Grand Valley State University: Masters of Education in Educational Leadership

Why did you choose education as a career?

My mother was a huge role model in my life. From a very young age I had the opportunity to serve at summer camps and be involved in athletic programs along her side. At this time I began influencing others in a meaningful way, this helped fuel my passion for education. As I grew older and began my college journey I saw the potential I had to impact scholars through education to help grow them socially, academically, and as young leaders. I am blessed each and every day to have the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of young people.


My beautiful wife Christa and I have been married for 14 years. We have three amazing girls, Sydney, Maggie, and Janey. Our chocolate lab mix Mae adds flare and adventure to the dynamics of our family. We enjoy camping, traveling, swimming, and hiking together as a family.  I have a passion for hunting, reading, hiking, outdoorsman activities, and enjoying time with friends and family.



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