Transportation manager to switch gears with new Early Childhood post
First Student Transportation Location Manager Sue Dieter has enjoyed her six years working with Tecumseh school bus drivers and mechanics, but a new opportunity as Tecumseh Public Schools Early Childhood Program Director will take her back to what she trained for.
“A good deal of my background is in early childhood education,” said Dieter, who began working with the program housed at Sutton Elementary School on May 1. She will be splitting her time between the new position and Transportation for the remainder of the school year.
“I thought it would be good to just get oriented while the program is still in session,” she said.
First Student is in the process of interviewing candidates for the position of Tecumseh Location Manager, and Dieter said she would be available to help that person get to know the operation for as long as needed.
Tecumseh Public Schools currently operates half-day Preschool classrooms with a session in the morning and one in the afternoon with teacher Kathleen Beaudoin, and a state-funded Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) classroom for four-year-olds taught by Barb Seidel.
Dieter said she will work closely with Supt. Kelly Coffin, the early childhood team and community families to determine what types of programs are needed.
“Dr. Coffin is very vested in developing and expanding early childhood programs to meet the needs of young families in the community,” said Dieter.
Previously, two former principals led the programs. When classrooms were in Patterson Elementary, Eddie Manuszak directed early childhood programs, and later, Sutton Principal Deb Langmeyer oversaw them.
“When you have state licensed programs, you have to meet certain criteria in order to be a program supervisor,” said Dieter. “If we’re going to expand we have to make sure we meet state licensing laws, GSRP rules, and national standards. We have people who have training and experience in the area, and I have an early childhood background.”
Dieter holds an Early Childhood Specialist Masters degree, and a Post-Master’s Certificate from the University of Michigan in Infant Mental Health, and can provide services for infants, toddlers and their families. She’s also worked with private childhood programs, directing a couple of centers in the Ann Arbor area, and led the Telemon Migrant Head Start program for four years when it was housed in the former Ridgeway School building. That program is now housed at the Lenawee TECH Center. She also ran an early childhood component of the Lenawee Prep Academy, which works with pregnant teens and young mothers.
“I’m excited to get back to working with young children and their families,” said Dieter. The team will explore the possibility of adding a second GSRP program, and is open to hearing from families about their needs. One of those opportunities to share information will take place at Sutton’s Kindergarten Roundup on May 22 where the early childhood team will be present to dispense information and talk to parents. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the school on Sutton Road.
Dieter has learned a lot through her years with the transportation department. “I think I got to know the whole district very well because in transportation, you interface with every building and all the staff as kids get on and off the bus, as well as the families who utilize the system,” she said. “It really expanded my understanding of the whole district and especially the school system.”
She said she views it as a privilege not only to get to return to an area she loves, but an opportunity to have a part in developing future programs.
“I think when you are in early childhood, very young children are still very much a part of the family unit and you get to know mom and dad and siblings,” she said. “As they go through elementary, we have less contact with the family unit. Working with the families is the exciting part for me.”
She also said working with young children helps keep a person young.
“They are excited about learning and want to know about the world around them, and you can just see their eyes sparkle with enthusiasm,” she said. “It sort of makes you see with fresh eyes again and helps renew your perspective.”
Dieter said the TPS program consists of a good team of people who are also excited about working with young students. Not that she won’t miss transportation as well.
“There is just a great group of folks that do busing for Tecumseh Schools — fabulous drivers and a stellar maintenance department,” she said. “It’s hard to leave when I have a good group of people I enjoy spending the day with. They do fine, and it’s a tough job. I think the transportation department is a point of pride in the Tecumseh community. But I also believe this opportunity came along at a time when things are going very well out there and it’s time for me to get on to a new challenge.”
For more information about the GSRP program, visit www.lenaweegreatstart.org or call 424.1000. For more information on the TPS Early Childhood Programs, call Sutton Elementary School at 423. 2367.