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Posted on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Ypsilanti hires 4 new middle and high school principals and assistants

By Danielle Arndt

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Thursday approved hiring four new building leaders for the middle and high schools.

The hirings complete the consolidated district's school administrative team and allow the principals and assistant principals time to get acclimated and to prepare for the opening of the new district.

Voters in November 2012 approved merging the struggling Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Community Schools into one district, which officially launched on July 1 and will welcome its first group of students on Sept. 3.

The board approved hiring Justin Jennings from Holland, Mich., as head principal of the Ypsilanti Community High School and Alexis Boyden to serve as assistant principal. They were hired on year-round contracts at salaries of $110,000 and $83,000, respectively.

Jennings comes to the district with a variety of administrative and teaching experience. Most recently, he was the principal of both Holland High School and Holland New Tech High School. He also was a principal in the Grand Rapids Public Schools and taught literature and special education for the district. Prior to working at GRPS, Jennings was a special education teacher at Kentwood Public Schools.


New YCHS Principal Justin Jennings


Jennings earned his bachelor's degree from Purdue University, where he also played basketball, YCS officials said. He has experience in coaching varsity boys basketball teams, officials said.

Jennings received his master's in special education administration and educational leadership from Grand Valley State University. He currently is working toward completing an educational administration specialist degree also at GVSU.

Boyden has spent the past seven years as a department chair and teacher consultant at Ann Arbor's Skyline High School.

The new district also hired Natalie Turner, the former Willow Run Intermediate Learning Center assistant principal, to be the head principal of Ypsilanti Community Middle School. She will receive a salary of $87,500.

Turner worked for Willow Run for 13 years, mostly teaching at the former Holmes Elementary and middle school. A local resident, she obtained her bachelor's degree in math from the University of Michigan and her master's and educational leadership specialist degrees from Eastern Michigan University, according to YCS officials.

Former Willow Run teacher Krista Jarvey was hired as the middle school assistant principal. She will earn an annual salary of $83,000.

Jarvey has been with Willow Run for 15 years. She earned both her bachelor's and her educational leadership specialist degrees at EMU.

"We now have our administrative team completely fleshed out," said YCS Superintendent Scott Menzel. "We're going to hit the ground running. And we've got a fantastic team in place."

In addition, the Board of Education set the compensation structure Thursday for non-instructional staff, instructional assistants/paraeducators, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists and speech therapists.

The board also hired Dan Tobis as a middle school science teacher with a $40,000 salary, an accounting technician, an athletic department secretary, a secretary for Estabrook Elementary School and four custodians.

The accounting technician will earn $20.60 per hour, the secretaries with earn $14.61 per hour and the custodians will earn $14.50 per hour.

One of the last central administration positions YCS officials have yet to hire is the chief financial officer role.

Menzel stressed this is a very important position and district leaders are looking for someone with the right credentials and right fit for the new district. He said at this point, the position will remain posted until filled.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Congrats to Natalie Turner and Krista Jarvey! They will continue to do fantastic things for the students.

Meredith Schindler

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

*I know that the soccer coach is not an administrative position. Sorry about that. Nevertheless, she is excellent.

Meredith Schindler

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Alexis Boyden is a former colleague and an excellent educator. I am very happy to hear that she's been hired for this position. I have been an outspoken critic of the school board as the consolidation process has unfolded, but between the new men's varsity soccer coach at YCHS and the hiring of Alexis Boyden, I am so far delighted with the administrative choices made by the new district. Natalie Turner is also a fantastic choice for middle school principal. I don't know the other people hired, but this is great news.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

It's time to put the past behind us and look to the future. With Williams and Jennings we have two really good and positive leaders at the high school. Add in the collection of amazing teachers and all of the programs and possibilities that exist ... the foundation is there for something great at Ypsi Community High. What is going to make the difference is getting the community to take a positive approach and help make the school a success. Coach Brooks proved that it is all possible with the right attitude. Ypsi High Basketball was a model last year for teams all over the State ... talented, disciplined, focused and a source of pride for the entire community. With what Williams and Jennings bring, and working together with the community, the entire school can become a model, if not a destination for academics and athletics. So let's help them! Support the new school district in every positive way you can. We have the chance for something special here.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Alexis "Boyden has spent the past seven years as a department chair ..." For which department was she chair?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:18 a.m.

Special Education


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

So happy to hear about Mrs. Turner! So happy she got our of the high school and doesn't have to work with Lamanzer Williams or Justin Jennings! She is GREAT! I will definitely promote the middle school and send my 7th grade daughter back! My 10th grade son will be attending Belleville. They have destroyed the high school and the programs that made my son successful last year. The majority of the WRHS staff is gone! All the people who cared about my son and his success have left the district or didn't get called back. How disappointing. I haven't heard good about Lamanzer Williams or Justin Jennings. Just two of the "good ole boy" club that Don Garrett created. Not real educators. Congrats Ms. Turner! We love you!


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

I continue to read the inflated stories around YCS. I am so disappointed in the board, Mr. Menzel, Ms. Lisiscki and the ISD staff, Ms. Naomi Norman, who have made one destructive decision after another and continue to harm our town and our kids. I am saddened for the staff that is still in the district and for the kids that have nowhere else to go. This was an orchestrated scheme that trickled down straight from Lansing. Menzel and Rutledge sold out our community for political and personal gain. Lisiscki, Bates & Garrett followed suit. And now they have hired a staff at the high school that resembles more of their poor choices. My son will NOT walk the halls with Jennings and Williams this year. We have made our final decision to leave. You cannot reach your personal agenda by harming our kids.

Life in Ypsi

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Congratulations to Ms. Turner and Ms. Jarvey. They were excellent teachers when my children attended Willow Run.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Ypsilanti Community Middle School is going to be a very powerful learning institution with the dynamic leadership of Turner and Jarvey! These ladies have the respect of students, staff and families. This was a smart and productive move for YCS!


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

If you read his bio he has the qualifications to be a superintendent.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

No, Jennings was not the Holland New Tech Director. Sounds like we just hired a good match for Lamanzer Williams! Why would we pay this guy only $10,000 less than the superintendent makes? That must not be sitting well with Laura Lisiscki!