Atwood Elementary Principal Colleen Furman said opening the doors for the first time each year feels like Christmas. Sept. 7 was the first day of school at Atwood, part of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools.

Atwood Elementary Principal Colleen Furman said opening the doors for the first time each year feels like Christmas. Sept. 7 was the first day of school at Atwood, part of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Atwood presents warm welcome as new school year begins

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published September 22, 2021

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Atwood Elementary School Principal Colleen Furman compared the first day of school feeling to Christmas morning.

Sept. 7 marked the beginning of another academic year at Atwood, part of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools. Atwood, located near Hall Road and North Avenue in Macomb Township, has 680 students enrolled this school year.

“Kids on Christmas morning are eager, and it’s like that here,” Furman said. “Opening the doors for the first time every year feels like Christmas.”

This is Furman’s fourth year as principal and 16th year in education. Each school year, Furman said the staff at Atwood are most excited about serving the community.

“We want to make sure that kids are happy, safe and learning,” the principal said.

For this school year, Furman indicated Atwood is excited to get back to full school days.

“Last year, we had a shortened day to accommodate for our virtual option,” she said.

Furman is excited to re-energize the Leader in Me program.

“We teach kids seven healthy habits, and it’s about being proactive,” she said. “Last year, we weren’t able to do much with that, but we’ll get that going again.”

Kristin Tunich, a student support coordinator at Atwood, said she is very passionate about the program.

“I spent a lot of time in the summer looking at how to get back into it and teaching the habits,” she said. “I believe in it very firmly.”   

Furman’s goals this academic year are to keep safety the No. 1 priority.

“Our parents are sending us their very most prized possessions,” she said. “For academic achievement, we’re here to ensure the kids are getting everything they deserve from us.”

Summer work for Furman included looking at the school day from opening to close, ensuring Atwood has proper staffing and processes in place for a smooth operation.

She believes this academic year will be a hybrid of what pre-pandemic and current schooling is like.    

Tunich said each year brings the overall excitement of engaging with kids and seeing them grow.

“Bringing the building back to life is always exciting,” she said. “Every kid you see is so excited. The constant looking around and seeing their friends again is great.”

Tunich said her role, which she began in January, is all about interacting with students.

“I get to see them first thing in the morning, I get to work with behaviors, I get to work in the lunchroom,” Tunich said. “I also still get to be part of the academic team.”

Tom Mette teaches fifth grade at Atwood. He is entering year 22 at the school.

“There’s a lot of excitement at the beginning of the year,” he said. “The parents and kids are excited. The teachers are excited for a new group of kids and a new opportunity to build relationships with the new group.”

Mette, who has 29 students in his class, said the relationships built with students and families is the greatest part of the job.

He used the first week of school to set up routines.

“You want to go slow, so you can go fast later,” Mette said. “It’s about getting to know the kids and making them feel comfortable.”

Matthew Reyst is a fourth grader in Ashley Berube’s class.

“I’m excited to meet my friends from second and third grade and make new friends,” he said.

His favorite classes are math, music and science.

Speaking on the intercom minutes before doors opened, Furman thanked the staff for all their hard work, having spent hours preparing for just a few hours to kick the year off right.

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