Forest Park Elementary welcomes new principal

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 15, 2019

 Heather Agueros took over as principal of Forest Park Elementary School in Eastpointe Feb. 19. She previously worked in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district.

Heather Agueros took over as principal of Forest Park Elementary School in Eastpointe Feb. 19. She previously worked in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district.

Photo provided by Caitlyn Kienitz

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EASTPOINTE — Forest Park Elementary School in Eastpointe welcomed Heather Agueros as its new principal Feb. 19.

Agueros is new to the Eastpointe Community Schools district and is inheriting the position from interim principal Fran Hobbs. Hobbs took over for former principal Kim Busuttil, who stepped down in December 2018.

“I have been in the field of education for 17 years,” said Agueros. “The last 12 was at Fitzgerald Public Schools. I am familiar with the district and know some people working here. They always speak very highly of the students, staff and community. When I saw the posting for the position, I thought I would give it a try. It turned out to be a good fit.”

Eastpointe Superintendent Ryan McLeod said that literacy is perhaps the most important factor in elementary education, and this was a key factor in selecting Agueros for the position.

“Ms. Agueros was selected for her extensive background in literacy coaching,” said McLeod. “Reading and writing are critical parts of our district and school improvement plans, so finding a leader that can continue that work and grow those efforts was important. We are excited to welcome her to the Eastpointe Community Schools family.”

A major reason for the focus on literacy is state law stating that all students need to be reading at their current grade level by the third grade, or they must repeat a grade.

“There’s the third-grade reading law saying that all students need to be reading at grade level by the third grade,” said Agueros. “Plus, reading is in everything. They still need to be able to read and comprehend a math problem, or be able to follow what they are learning in other subjects, like science or social studies.”

Agueros plans to bring her expertise to the fore in leading the school in efforts to improve student achievement.

“The last position I had was as one of the Title I reading specialists. I worked with (kindergarten through fifth-grade) students to support their reading,” she explained. “Most of the students I worked with were reading below grade level, and I had to boost their scores. Part of that job was looking at data and looking at scores, so coming into this building, I have that mindset behind me, and data is what drives our instruction. I want to look at student scores and see how we can supplement them through intervention to get the students not at grade level up to grade level.”

Agueros said she plans on looking at data to see how literacy can be improved and ensuring students get one-on-one assistance when needed.

“My plans go back to what I said about looking at data,” she said. “We test them at the beginning of the year to see where they’re at, and we drive our instruction based on what we learn from there. We make sure students are instructed at their level, and we test them again in the middle of the year to see which kids are ready to move up, and then we adjust our instruction again based on those who still need assistance. We can bring in parapros to work with Tier 3 and Tier 2 students who need additional help to reach their grade level reading skills.”

Agueros also said she wants to take her time assessing where Forest Park is succeeding and where it needs improving before proposing any changes to how the school is run.

“I haven’t been here long enough to make any decisions about anything I want to change,” she said. “There are some great systems in place, and I plan to move forward with those systems. These are things like the Positive Behavior Support Team, which encourages students to act appropriately, or the intervention system, which includes things like our parapro efforts. As time moves on and I see what works and what doesn’t, we can make adjustments to ensure we are maximizing our potential.”

Agueros said her first impression of the school was a strong one and she has enjoyed her time there so far.

“I’m so excited to be here,” she said. “I have only been here a couple weeks, and so far, working with the students and staff has been a great experience. The kids are so eager to show you what they are learning, and that makes it so easy to come here every day and work with everyone. I think we will be seeing great things come out of Forest Park. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.”

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