New Young Elementary Principal Gabe Keese has it, and so does her school.
It’s hard to tell if Keese sets the tone for the energy level at Young, or if her personality is just a perfect fit for what is already there.
Either way, that energy was on display at Thursday’s “Meet the Teacher” night at the school, which Keese said was an “awesome beginning.”
“I can tell we are really going to work together in providing the best for our students, and that’s exciting to be able to lead that,” she said. “You can feel the energy on that.”
Keese said she has a strong group of teachers, and she looks forward to a successful year.
“I’ve been telling my teachers, ‘We’re great teachers. We’ve got great students. We’re going to do great things at a great school,'” she said.
Her journey to leading a school started when she and her family moved to Decatur in 1993. Prior to that, Keese had not worked in the education field, but after substituting for a few years, “I loved it,” she said. “It really was my passion, and I didn’t even know it.”
At the age of 40, Keese went back to school to become a teacher. She started at Decatur Elementary (now Rann Elementary), teaching fourth grade. When Carson Elementary opened in 2000, she was among that first group of teachers who opened the school. In 2006, she moved to the Eagle Mountain Saginaw school district.
Being a principal wasn’t something she considered until a principal at Decatur called and encouraged her to give it some thought. After going back to get her master’s degree, Keese became an assistant principal at Carson in 2010. In 2011, she moved over to Young as an assistant principal.
She credits two of her former principals in Decatur for helping mold her into the principal she plans to be.
“I’m thankful for being mentored by Debbie Boatwright, my former principal at Young, and Kyle Sorg, who was my principal at Carson,” she said. “They have different strengths, and I’ve learned a lot from both of them.”
Being principal will place her in a unique position with a new set of responsibilities.
“When you are a classroom teacher, it’s exciting to know you have an impact on your classroom,” Keese said. “But when you are a building leader, you have an impact on all the children. And that is exciting to know – that you can provide leadership, so all those children can be successful.”