RC’s Makowski named Principal of the Year

ROGERS CITY – A statewide association has named Rogers City Elementary School Principal Katy Xenakis-Makowski principal of the year.

Xenakis-Makowski received the honor in December at a Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association conference, she said. She was nominated as principal of the year for Region 13 – which consists of the Lower Peninsula north of Cadillac – by Ella White Elementary School Principal Melissa Schaedig. While she’s never worked with Xenakis-Makowski, Schaedig was familiar with the elementary school principal and Rogers City Area Schools superintendent’s very positive reputation.

Xenakis-Makowski said she’s pleased to be recognized for her efforts.

“I greatly appreciate the nomination, and I look forward to continuing on the path,” she said.

Schaedig pointed out that Xenakis-Makowski pulls double duty as elementary school principal and district superintendent. While it’s not unheard of for principals to hold a district administrative position, it’s typically high school principals who do. A look at Rogers City’s educational and financial data will show Xenakis-Makowski manages both positions well.

“The fact that she’s such a leader for her district as well as for her elementary staff, I think, really sets her above her peers,” Schaedig said.

Elementary school students take hands-on time, Xenakis-Makowski said. She typically spends most of her time at the elementary school, and focuses on her superintendent duties after class is dismissed. She credited her central office staff for helping to keep her on top of district-wide issues, although her administrative duties occasionally pull her away from the elementary school during the day.

Xenakis-Makowski found out she had been nominated just before Thanksgiving, she said, and had to bring a letter from her coworkers explaining why she should get the award. She also had to bring a commercial for the elementary school. The high school broadcasting club put together the ad in a week.

The letter praises Xenakis-Makowski’s focus on educational standards and improvements to curriculum, her support for her staff and for taking time with her students. It tells how she has led the district through ups and downs since taking on the administrative role in 2011, pushed to secure extra funding and used data-driven methods to improve student academics.

Receiving the award gives Xenakis-Makowski affirmation that she’s struck a good balance among her various duties, she said. Along with principal and superintendent, she runs federal education programs for her district, as well as the special education program.

“It keeps you positive,” she said. “Sometimes you get frustrated with all the hoops you have to jump through and not getting enough funding to do the things you know you can do.”

Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association focuses on advocacy and professional development for principals, and Xenakis-Makowski said she attended workshops at the conference at which she and others were recognized. They focused on how to start new programs and bring new resources into the classroom, among other topics.

Xenakis-Makowski said she originally didn’t know who had nominated her for the award. When she found out it came from a colleague in Alpena, she was honored.

“Having a colleague nominate you for something like that really makes you feel pretty good about what you do,” she said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.