New Rogers Elementary principal happy to be back in home district

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 21, 2022

 Jack Gitler

Jack Gitler

BERKLEY — Rogers Elementary School has been in session for a few weeks now, and its new principal feels right at home.

Last spring, the district hired Jack Gitler as the new principal for the school coming into this year. He comes to Berkley from Brown Elementary in Byron Center Public Schools, where he served as principal for six years.

A graduate of Berkley schools who attended from kindergarten through 12th grade, Gitler said he had been given many opportunities throughout his time in the district and had many great teachers and that he relished the opportunity of giving back to the school district that gave so much to him.

“I felt as a student that teachers really cared about the students socially, emotionally, behaviorally, they cared about how they did academically when I was a student here,” he said. “Knowing that that was the tenets of the school district and what people cared about here, I felt more than anything I wanted to be able to do that and be able to bring those same tenets and support the students the same way, and also give my own children the opportunity of being around educators who cared so much about them.”

Now that he’s back in Berkley, Gitler wants to continue the district’s focus on educating the “whole child,” where they’re focusing on not just academics, but also supporting students socially and emotionally.

“That really goes beyond just the ABCs and the 123s,” he said. “That’s about what kind of person they are and developing those important characteristics as well for the children.”

More than 60 people applied for the position of principal when the hiring process began. That list of applicants was whittled down to one, Gitler, who was announced by the district in March as principal, and who began the job July 1.

Superintendent Scott Francis said the district was fortunate that the job drew the attention of Gitler and that, throughout the interview process, Gitler shined with how passionate he was about Berkley.

“You could tell that he has a deep passion for this community, a strong understanding for the community (from) growing up in the community, but he also has a lot of experience and experience as an administrator,” Francis said. “One of his strengths that really came through was his passion for good teaching and learning, and a strong understanding of what good teaching and learning looks like in the classroom, and to us that instructional leadership quality was what we’re really looking for. And he really has that skill and ability and passion to grow more into that.”

Francis stated that Gitler has an ability as an instructional leader to lead teachers, has a strong understanding and commitment to the community of Berkley, and has a great relationship and likes to have fun with the kids.

“He’s just got a good energy, and that’s what you want your leader to have is a positive outlook and good energy, and that just flows throughout the building, and we’re fortunate to have Jack in the district,” he said.

The first day of school at Rogers Elementary was Aug. 29. Gitler said his first couple of weeks on the job couldn’t have gone any better and that the students have been wonderful.

“The teachers have done a great job of supporting the children and supporting them coming back from the summer, and the families as a whole have really reached out, been very supportive,” he said. “We have a great PTA group that supported a lot of the ongoing opportunities for students outside of school and during the school day, and I’m just really impressed by everything that’s happening here at Rogers.”