She took three minutes to study her bookshelf, one minute to screen her iTunes playlists, and pondered into her own world. It took her exactly 6 minutes and 8 seconds to decide Mia Angelou, Gandhi, her maternal grandmother, Beethoven and Jimmy Fallon were the top five people she wanted at her fantasy guest dinner party.
Thoughtful describes Rachel Guinn.
If you ask Guinn, it was her passion and hard work that led her to be where she is today—Seaholm’s new principal. This summer Guinn formally took over Deanna Barash’s position as principal.
Barash is currently Northville Public Schools’ new assistant superintendent for instructional services.
Guinn was born in New York, and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
For the last 20 years, she was in the Rochester community’s schools. She was at Hart Middle School for six years- three as an assistant principal and three as principal. She also worked at Rochester Stony Creek and Adams High School, and was the assistant principal to Rochester High School.
“About half of my career I’ve been at the high school, and half I’ve been at the middle school,” Guinn said.“I had been a principal at the middle school, I had been a teacher in the high school, an assistant principal at the high school, but not a principal at the high school. Its kind of finishing the trifecta.”
Yet, education was a career pathway Guinn only chose later on. She initially had plans to become a flutist, and attended the University of Michigan where she studied flute for a year-and-a-half.
Guinn’s family hails from the arts background. Her father is an opera singer and had been the chair for voice at the University of Michigan for 30 years, and her mother, a ballerina, had taught ballet at the University of Michigan.
While on Ann Arbor’s campus, Guinn was reading a bulletin board posted with “We want you…” ads when she happened to run into a professor recruiting for The School of Education, she said.
“She saw me and she was like, ‘Miss Guinn, do you belong in The School of Education?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know.’
“She said, ‘Well if all of your outside of school jobs are with kids, then why aren’t you pursuing a degree with working with students?’
“It was like a light bulb going off. She said, ‘try it,’ and I said ‘ok.’”
Soon enough, Guinn got her bachelor’s degree in German from the University of Michigan, with a teaching certificate in German and english from The School of Education. She received her masters in curriculum instruction and leadership from Oakland University, and is currently in her second year of an education specialist program at Oakland University for educational leadership.
She first started her teaching career at Adams High School, where she taught German, english and substance awareness abuse education.
“One of the biggest differences for me was I was 24 and my students were 18,” Guinn said.
She has no regrets with the switch in her career. She mentions her experiences at Hart as being incredible. Hart middle school, the largest middle school in Oakland County, with a comparable size to Seaholm—give or take a couple hundred—challenged Guinn totackle the challenge of making small out of big.
“It’s important to make everyone feel like they have a special spot, and they’re not being swallowed up by the size,” Guinn said.
But after her experiences with middle school, Guinn felt it was time for her to transition to high school.
“Everyone [in high school] has a place to do something,” Guinn said.“And there just is not that same level of offering at the middle school. So to me, what a cool place to be, where you can find your passion and pursue it in these four years, start developing it, and maybe change your passions along the way.”
Seaholm was the perfect fit.
“I spend a lot of time at professional development workshops and things like that with Seaholm administrators and faculty,” Guinn said.“I was so impressed with the level of dedication, curiosity, and the love of learning that Birmingham demonstrated. Every time I met someone from Birmingham, there wasa sense of passion that was oozing from people that was very contagious. I was like, ‘this would be a place that would be very exciting to work.’”
Guinn credits her parents as being her heroes and the reason why she feels dedication and passion for education. Her father had overcome extreme poverty, and her mother and father were first generation to receive formal education.
“Both were first generation to receive formal education and valued that so much, that they really instilled that value in me,” Guinn said.“I would say from both I learned both simultaneously an incredibly strong work ethic along with a deep appreciation for all the opportunities that we have, and the importance of not taking things for granted.”
Guinn’s love for the profession and the community is apparent.
She was honored in Rochester for work she did with the parent community. She did work on behalf of students to support and encourage families and students who needed outside assistance.
“That award meant a lot, because it was straight from the heart,” Guinn said. “But I received it on behalf of a community’s effort. It was not just Rachel; it was a group of us.”
Guinn hopes to relay her past experiences, and passion for the profession to better Seaholm,and offer students and staff support.
“I am here to listen, support, encourage, and help you discover your passions so you can make your high school years the best they can be,” Guinn said. “That’s my mission. That’s why I’m here.”