New principals hired at Norton, Park elementaries

THREE RIVERS — Two elementary schools in Three Rivers will be getting new principals for the upcoming school year.

On Monday, the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education approved the hiring of Amanda Fahnestock to be the new principal at Park Elementary and the hiring of Julie Jackson to be the new principal at Norton Elementary.

Fahnestock, who currently lives in Three Rivers, has been with the district in two different stints, first as a Three Rivers Middle School teacher from 2012-15 and 2018-21, and has been the assistant principal at the middle school since March 2021. She has a bachelor’s degree in middle childhood education with a concentration in English language arts and science from the University of Toledo, a master’s degree in education in curriculum, instruction and assessment from Walden University, and has completed the Path to Leadership Alternative Certification Program from the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals.

Fahnestock replaces former Park Elementary principal Cindy Newell, who retired at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

Jackson, who currently resides in Mount Pleasant, was most recently a fourth-grade teacher at Mary McGuire Elementary in Mount Pleasant, a position she’s held since July 2019. She has also previously been a fourth-grade teacher at Hillside Elementary in Harrison, Mich. from July 2011 to June 2019, as well as a summer school teacher with Harrison Middle School in 2013 and 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in school principalship from Central Michigan.

Jackson replaces former Norton Elementary principal Jen Graber, who was hired as the new curriculum director for Three Rivers Community Schools earlier this month.

TRCS Superintendent Nikki Nash said she was “excited” to bring the two new principals on board, and described the process of selecting them.

“They went through quite an interviewing process. We had two rounds of interviews; one we had all the administrators going through eight applications and we brought it down to five and got some great candidates. Then each building had a representation of five staff members that came together, interviewed as a team, then they had conversation with a rubric, and those two ladies came to the top,” Nash said.

Nash also gave praise to the two women on their backgrounds.

“Amanda has worked with us, and we’ve seen a lot of the great things she can do. Park is very excited to have her aboard,” Nash said. “Julie had a great reference check. Some things that were said in her references that I checked are that she’s a teacher of the year, she’s strong in curriculum and classroom management, she gets instruction, she works well with all populations, she’s a leader who is exceptional among her colleagues, a positive mentor, and she creates great relationships with all students, staff and parents.”

Jackson was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting. Fahnestock thanked the board for their hire following the unanimous vote to hire both.

“Thank you for the opportunity, I’m really excited to get started at Park,” Fahnestock said. “I’ll miss my middle school people and working with them, but I’m really excited I can be a part of the Park family now.”

Nash said a similar interview process to the search for the new principals will be held to replace Fahnestock’s position.

In other business…

  • The board approved the preliminary general fund budget for the 2022-23 school year. The budget is estimated to have $30,044,869 in revenues and $29,945,017 in expenditures. Director of Business Operations Blair Brindley said the budget is primarily based off of a projected state funding increase of $435 per pupil, with a projected decrease in 25 students down to an estimated 2,344 students in the district. There is also a budgeted increase to special education funding and a 2.5 percent wage increase for directors, supervisors and administrators that was also approved unanimously by the board.
  • The board approved the final 2021-22 general fund budget amendment. The budget will be finishing with $32,099,892 in revenues and $31,700,434 in expenditures, with nearly $400,000 going back into the fund balance.
  • The board heard a presentation from Graber on the end-of-year progress report in benchmark testing for students. More on that presentation will be in an upcoming edition of the Commercial-News.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or

Three Rivers Commercial-News

124 North Main Street
Box 130
Three Rivers, MI 49093

Telephone: 269-279-7488
Fax: 269-279-6007
General email: