FLINT TWP. — Rankin Elementary Principal Laura Garrison has been named 2021 Principal of the Year by the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) Region 10.
Garrison, who’s been the principal at Rankin since 2016, received the recognition for her administrative work at Carman Ainsworth Community Schools and her impact on students, staff and the community.
CACS Superintendent Eddie Kindle said that the district is fortunate to have Garrison and the dedication she brings to her position.
“Laura’s natural strengths, abilities and ambition make things happen,” he said. “Because of these qualities, students thrive. Students grow. Students do amazing things. Laura’s actions allow students to feel proud of what they do; they are motivated and energized.”
Garrison started her career at Flint Community Schools 27 years ago as a K-3rd grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School (two years) and at Freeman Elementary (18 years). She accepted her first administration position when she became an assistant principal at Durant-Tuuri Mott seven years ago.
Garrison is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s in elementary education. She earned two Master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership and Curriculum.
Prior to becoming the principal of Rankin Elementary, Garrison was invested in Carman Ainsworth Community Schools. Two of her children, Mikaila (2016) and Alivia (2020) are graduates of Carman- Ainsworth High School and her son, Luke, is a junior at Carman Ainsworth High School. All three of her children attended Rankin Elementary.
To understand the district better, Garrison served on the Carman-Ainsworth Board of Education and went on to be recognized as a distinguished member through the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB). Garrison has also volunteered in the community with the Carman Cancer Crushers, the American Cancer Society and with a parent group that helped to renew a millage.
Since being the principal at Rankin, Laura has implemented a daily morning mindfulness time and restorative justice practices. She has also added a large sensory room, music therapy and even a wellness room for her staff. All those things have contributed to Rankin Elementary having one of the highest MSTEP proficiencies in the State of Michigan, as well as one of the best ratings in the state’s free and reduced lunch index.
In terms of outreach, Rankin Elementary provides food for families as part of a backpack program and partners with local churches and volunteers to provide families with resources.
Garrison has also been commended by the district for exceling in building relationships with staff, students and parents. Staff members stated that Garrison goes above and beyond when it comes to getting to know the students in her building and that she works long hours to ensure that all students find a home at Rankin Elementary.
Garrison’s teachers have also commended her for giving them the freedom to be creative and flexible with their teaching as long as students are making the necessary gains. She has been well-regarded for encouraging collaboration, development opportunities for her staff members and team decision-making.
In Garrison’s words: “Working with the students and staff at Rankin Elementary is more than a job. It is my passion.”