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Chelsea School Board Meets New Hires; Hears DBEI Report

By Crystal Hayduk

The Chelsea School District (CSD) hired 50 new staff over the summer and, according to Marcus Kaemming, assistant superintendent, still have additional open positions that need to be filled.

“All of us across the county…are looking for employees,” he said, especially bus drivers, food service employees, paraprofessionals, and people to provide after school care.

“We really want and hope that our families would say, ‘Hey, this is a great schedule to come work for the district and be on a schedule similar to my child’s,’” said Kaemming.

There is a particular need for bus drivers, which requires a different skill set. Training will be paid for by the district for those who need it.

Employment opportunities can be found on the district’s website at

Building administrators introduced 15 new hires at the virtual board of education meeting on Sept. 13. (Please see additional story with all of their photos.)

Lisa Nickel, director of special education, introduced two “outstanding new teammates” starting with Kelly Quinn-Kelly, or “Kelly Squared” thanks to a recent marriage. She is the new speech and language pathologist at North Creek Elementary School (NC) who earned her master’s degree from Wayne State University (WSU). Kimberly Goonis is the new early childhood special education teacher, who also received her master’s degree from WSU.

North Creek Principal Kimberly Gillow introduced several new teachers. Michelle Parling, who has a master’s degree from Central Michigan University (CMU) and Kelsey Zagata, who is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University (EMU), will be teaching first grade. Madeline Keating (CMU), Mackenzie Kriekard (University of Michigan), and Allison Pippin (CMU) will be teaching second grade. “Kudos to Central for all these fabulous candidates,” said Gillow.

Stacie Battaglia, principal at South Meadows Elementary School, introduced two new teachers. Sarah Obenauf comes to the district with eight years of experience after graduating from Albion College. She will teach third grade. Micaela Hanrath is a graduate of CMU, hired to work part-time at South and part-time at North. She will teach art part-time and assist with the literacy program.

Beach Middle School Principal Nick Angel introduced Michael Coulombe, who is teaching science on the seventh-grade gold team. He graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University. Alyssa Knupp is teaching English language arts in sixth and eighth grades; she earned her master’s degree at Oakland University.

Mike Kapolka, Chelsea High School (CHS) principal introduced four additional hires. Emma Yee is a graduate of the University of Michigan (UM), currently teaching English in ninth and tenth grades. Tyler Santoro teaches world history and civics; he is a graduate of EMU. Carrie Hillis earned her master’s degree from School of the Art Institute of Chicago; she teaches visual arts, including graphic arts and photography. Betsy Ratliff, who served the district last year as an intervention specialist, is now a teacher consultant. She graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.

Trustee Jason Eyster provided the school board with an update about the advisory committee (Eyster, Shawn Quilter, and Laura Bush) that was formed to examine the district’s DBEI (diversity, belonging, equity, and inclusion) initiative. The committee met in August for presentations by district staff (Kaemming, Heather Conklin, and Andrea Franco), followed by community comment and emails. The committee met again on September 2 to ask further questions.

Eyster reported the following committee findings:

  • Parent input has been valuable in understanding problems.
  • CSD staff and board care about Chelsea students; DBEI reflects the desire to ensure that every student feels a sense of belonging, which precipitated the formation of the initiative in February 2020.
  • In the zeal to pursue DBEI, especially in the midst of the pandemic, there wasn’t adequate oversight in the initial resource materials presented.
  • In reaction to the concerns voiced, the resource list was removed from the internet and are being reviewed.
  • The committee recommends a more effective method to choose resource books and review links to other web pages—both currently in process.

During the two opportunities for public input, 14 community members spoke—many on more than one topic. Issues raised included political signage in classrooms, first amendment rights of students, academic performance, pandemic response, DBEI, and superintendent contract issues (see related story here:

Public comment in its entirety can be viewed as part of the recorded meeting at for one month.

In other board news:

The board approved the purchase of playground equipment for before and after school care at Pierce Lake Elementary School at a cost of $71,839.

The board commended CHS Band Director Alison Roberts and the band students for their dedication to frequent, early morning practice to be in “full form” for the football games.

Upcoming dates:

There will be a work session at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

Student Count Day will be Oct. 6.

The next regular board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11.

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