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Don Hoaglin


Developing a Community School

15 Arbor Street
Battle Creek, Michigan 49015
Don Hoaglin’s job description calls for more than the average school principal. Community engagement is key to his everyday activities at Prairieview Elementary School, a school that stemmed from the Developing a Community School Project. Through hard work and a proactive approach, he has the involvement of Battle Creek business leaders, service agencies, clergy members and more.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Prairieview School Principal Don Hoaglin: I believe a true leader isn’t much of a leader at all unless he considers himself first a good listener. Talkers and speech-givers aren’t necessarily what make good leaders. I do believe a leader is a listener first.
Talkers and speech-givers aren’t necessarily what make good leaders. I do believe a leader is a listener first.
After gathering good people around him, a good leader fosters shared vision and gives people the necessary support that empowers them to enhance growth. This is the true sign of a good leader: the ability to step out of the way and empower good people to achieve their goals.
What is your dream for kids?
My dream for children is to have all of them on an equal playing field when vying for the skills in life that count most. I’d like to see all kids have the best possible access to the tools – social, emotional, academic – needed to succeed.
I would like to see all children learn and grow to become productive citizens in a global society.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for
social sector work in Michigan?
Organizations could do a better job of collectively focusing on human-centered activities – we will all benefit. In my opinion we have a disconnect between social service agencies, schools, businesses and philanthropic sources.
There are many resources out there operating in isolation, often duplicating programs. I feel that through increased communication and planning that our collective efforts can be more sustainable and longer lasting. This, of course, would result in a more streamlined process that, in the long run, works more efficiently.
...it’s one thing to have these grand ideas about what you’d like to accomplish, but the true moments of pride come when ideas start getting realized.
How do you know you’re making progress?

We like to gauge our progress by the number of lives we are touching, and what better way to get a feel for that then by counting the number of people who are taking part in the programs.
We have been encouraged with increased community and neighborhood involvement – more people, organizations and neighbors are joining the table to better help coordinate efforts for positive lasting change. The more people involved, the more ideas you’re going to have, and the more ideas you’re going to have, the more lives you are going to have an impact on.
What are you most proud of?
It’s difficult to pinpoint just one point when answering this question because there are so many facets that make up a program of which you can be proud.
First and foremost, as I touched on before, it takes a collaboration of efforts — a group of people working as one — to achieve one common goal. We’ve all heard the term “It truly takes a village to raise a child,” and this couldn’t be more true. We are proud of the amount of collaboration we’ve been getting, and we’re hopeful of getting even more community involvement in the future.
Secondly, it’s one thing to have these grand ideas about what you’d like to accomplish, but the true moments of pride come when ideas start getting realized. It’s when the wheels are in motion and the program starts moving that you really start seeing some results worth being proud of. This is when you know that the hard work has been worth it. That there are going to be some kids who really benefit from the efforts that have been put forth.
Finally, I’m proud that I work with a group of very talented people that put the needs of children first and realize that through collaboration, our collective efforts are better attained.
What keeps you awake at night?
I worry about the children and families we serve, their living conditions, the barriers they face and their chances for success. 
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