Mio AuSable hires new secondary principal

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Mio AuSable Schools has hired a new secondary principal who officially begins working for the district in August.

Dennis Niles was officially chosen by the board of education at the May 14 meeting. Future superintendent Paul Ciske said Niles was a solid choice for the position.

“His experience jumps right out at you,” Ciske said. “His references were glowing. Teachers who have worked with him said he was a great disciplinarian and a pleasure to work with.”

Niles is a member of the Michigan Association of Secondary Principals. He said when he learned of the position he knew he had to apply.

“I’ve had a second home in Mio for the past 15 years,” Niles said. “I keep up on the area and when I saw Jim was going to retire, I started watching their website looking for the posting.”

Ciske said the previous principal, Jim Gendernalik, left an impression on the district, and Niles will need to do that for himself as well.

“Mr. G has left some big shoes to fill,” Ciske said. “That will be the first thing (Niles) will have to focus on doing.”

Niles said he was ecstatic when he was given the position. He said his main goal in education is to be in touch with the students. He said he recently finished working in three schools with over 1000 students. He said while he could build relationships with some of the students, he wasn’t always able to do the same with faculty. He said with a smaller school like Mio, he can do both.

Niles said he thinks his upbringing will help him connect with the students.

“I grew up in St. Helen. I know what it’s like to grow up in rural Northern Michigan. I get it. That is part of the reason I wanted this job.”

Niles said one of the most important things on the job is to help students keep a healthy mindset about success.

“Everyday people face success, challenges and failures,” Niles said. “I hope to help everyone find the good in that. A failure can be a success depending how you look at it. … I hope if the students are struggling they can come to me to help them. That’s what we should do in education.”

With Niles as the new secondary principal, and Ciske as the schools new superintendent and primary school principal, Mio AuSable will have several new key administrators. Ciske said he and Niles will have to learn to work together as administrators. He said he doesn’t foresee any challenges working with Niles.

Niles said although his role in the position does not officially begin until August, he will be around the area meeting residents and students throughout the summer. He said once he does officially take over as principal he’s looking forward to making a plan with the staff to continually improve the school.

“After meeting and talking with the board, staff and kids,” Niles said. “… sitting down and planning how we can build from successes and learn from missteps will be one of the things I’m most excited for.”

When looking toward the future, Niles said a main goal he has for the students is to show it’s important to do something you care about for a living.

“(I hope to) help kids learn to follow their passion in life,” Niles said. “There’s nothing worse than going to a job you’re going to hate for 30 years. It’s possible to do something you enjoy and support yourself and a family.”

Niles said this job is the reason he’s been looking for to finally move to the area full time. Ciske said Niles’ stint as secondary principal officially begins in mid-august.

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