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Linda Mah
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Meet the New Milwood Magnet Principal

Mark Tobolski Comes from Indiana

Mark Tobolski’s goal is simple: prepare students for the future.

And, of course, as the new principal of Milwood Magnet School: A Center for Math, Science and Technology, preparing them academically is his main focus. But, Tobolski also wants to prepare the students emotionally and socially.

“I think the challenge in middle school is getting the students ready for high school. They have to understand that graduation is built on what you’re doing here,” he said.

“On top of managing the biological and psychological changes kids go through at this age, and that in itself is kind of different, the main challenge is just preparing them for the next level.”

Tobolski said he’s looking forward to meeting students, families and community members as the new year gets underway.

“What is important in order for us to be successful is not just the school but the environment around the building,” he said. “We have to work as a team and a family.” Tobolski moved to Kalamazoo from Indiana. A native of South Bend, he earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing education from Indiana State University and his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Indiana University South Bend. He has additional certifications and coursework in administration and superintendency.

He taught at South Bend Community Schools for nine years, before becoming assistant principal at Mishawaka High School. He then joined Elkhart Community Schools for 22 years, where he served as vice principal for five years before becoming a middle school and high school principal.

As a principal, he said that beyond providing students with academics, he strives to build a community of strong relationships.

“The staff has to be there for kids. Kids need an outlet,” Tobolski said. “Sometimes they get advice from their peers, which may not be helpful. They need an adult they can go to and talk to and build those relationships. Sometimes kids won’t go to their parents.”

Tobolski said he is a huge advocate for extracurricular activities. Every student should be involved in some school activity outside of their studies.

“In an extracurricular, you can’t do it halfway and be successful,” he said. “It’s all about the commitment you make. Band, running, playing football, singing — you have to give it your all. It makes you a little humble sometimes.

“Plus, when you’re doing an extracurricular, it means you’re not on the street and you’re not getting in trouble.”

He was a student athlete, running track and cross country in high school and in college. His younger daughter Sydney, 21, who is an astrophysics student at Seminole State University, was involved in theater, while his older daughter Allyson, 25, who teaches and coaches volleyball in Elkhart, followed in his footsteps as an athlete.

“My oldest daughter even says sports taught her how to be disciplined,” he said. “It teaches you more about who you are and who you can be.”

In addition to Tobolski, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Assistant Chief Donald Webster joined KPS as the district chief of security. (Look for a story on Webster in the November Excelsior.)

Several staff members moved into new administrative jobs. They are:

Craig LeSuer, the former Milwood Middle School principal, is now the principal at Milwood Elementary School.

Joletta Drake, the former principal at Greenwood Elementary, is now principal at Prairie Ridge Elementary School.

Pam Salak, a Loy Norrix High School teacher, is the new dean of students at Kalamazoo Central High School.

Sylvia Washington, a Reading Recovery teacher, is taking over as principal at Greenwood Elementary School.

Dr. Natalie Wilson, a Woods Lake Elementary School teacher, is the principal at El Sol Elementary School.

Chad Brady, a Kalamazoo Central teacher, has been named interim Loy Norrix High School assistant principal.

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