CHARLEVOIX — Charlevoix Middle High School Principal Suzanne Klinger has retired after 29 years of service in the Charlevoix Public School system.
She held the principal position for 15 years and before that had experience as an assistant principal, media specialist and high school business teacher.
She is beloved by her colleagues, who have expressed their appreciation for the mark she made on the education community.
Karrie Gaffney, Charlevoix Middle High School counselor, said Klinger will “be truly missed.”
“I have worked with Suzanne for over 24 years and she exemplifies what it means to be an educator. Her leadership style helps move her staff and the students to be the best they can be. I will miss her dedication, worth ethic, caring and compassionate attitude and most of all her great sense of humor and flexibility,” noted Gaffney.
“Suzanne’s strong curricular background, incredible work ethic, and overall care for children and staff members will be what I remember most during her tenure,” said Charlevoix Public School superintendent Mike Ritter.
“Suzanne is retiring with over 30 years of service to our district and her contributions will continue to benefit our staff and students for years to come,” he continued.
Klinger said during her life she has always enjoyed working alongside others, especially young people.
When asked why she chose a career in education, she explained, "After I graduated with my bachelor's degree in marketing and management, I worked for (9&10 News) and was given the task of training people on new software. That experience solidified my decision to go back to college to obtain my teaching degree and seek my first job as a business teacher.”
She noted how rewarding her experiences as a principal in Charlevoix have been.
“The opportunity to work with kids in an educational setting is incredibly rewarding. Every day is different, every student conversation is different, every need or celebration is different. Sometimes in the moment, I didn't realize I was making a difference, but the notes from students or even contacts years later, has been very fulfilling,” said Klinger.
“I've been blessed to work alongside incredible educators - our staff, from custodians, kitchen crew, secretaries, parapros and teachers - they give heart and soul for our students and our school, every single day. It's been incredibly rewarding to develop common goals for our school and see them come to fruition through hard work and dedication.”
Klinger also spoke about challenging times, stating, ”I'd have to say, the times we struggled with budget issues were the worst. The shortfalls caused large class sizes, limited resources, staff layoffs, change in master schedule and building closures. Those were tough, tough times.”
“I'm most proud of the work our staff has accomplished together, even in the lean times, we always put kids first,” she explained.
Some specifics Klinger noted she was proud of was, “working together over the years, our students had some of the top scores in the state, our school rankings were always high, our athletic teams were very competitive, our band, fine arts and CTE programs were top-notch and our students had so many opportunities for a small school. When we closed the middle school, the transition of seventh- and eighth-graders to our school was seamless and positive. Most of all, I was always proud to be a Rayder.”
After retirement Klinger plans to enjoy more time taking care of herself, spending time with her husband and travelling to see her adult children and different parts of the country. She also plans to explore different job opportunities, stating, “I like to stay busy.”
Klinger is also a “year-round outside walker” and is looking forward to getting more walks with her friends.
“I also enjoy skiing in the winter and hope to spend some time on the slopes in Utah with our kids. In the summer, we hope to take the boat to new places around the Great Lakes. I also plan to learn how to play pickle ball, have more time for pleasure reading, travel more and volunteer in our community,” she said.
Klinger noted how the role of educators has changed greatly over the last several years.
“There is so much to balance — educating students at different levels, meeting the wellness needs of students (especially mental health) and the overall safety of students. Teachers and staff work hard every day to make sure students have the best possible experience at school, but a team effort between home and school is a must. Communication and presuming positive intention is key for student success. When everyone works together, the best things happen for our students and Charlevoix is a great example of the best,” said Klinger, adding “Thank you, Charlevoix, for allowing me to serve our students for 29 years — I'm beyond grateful.”
Look to a future Charlevoix Courier article on Klinger’s replacement, Dan Terryberry.
Contact reporter Annie Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Charlevoix Middle High School principal Suzanne Klinger retires