STEPHENSON — This year, Stephenson Area Public Schools is facing a lot of changes. On top of new regulations put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the school district being consolidating into a single building, Stephenson Schools also has a new superintendent and a new principal.

Both Susanne Carpenter and Mark Demeuse expressed excitement at beginning their time as Stephenson Area Public Schools superintendent and principal, respectively.

Originally from Gladstone, Mich., Demeuse, principal, said he was happy to be back in the Upper Peninsula to begin working for and with the Stephenson School District. The location was a major draw to his interest in the the position and he has felt welcomed by both the facility and community in his few weeks on the job.

Prior to this position, Demeuse has experience in both criminal justice and education. He graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in criminal justice and worked for the City Police Department in Jackson, Mich. for about 13 years.

However, after more than a decade at the job, Demeuse changed career paths to education.

“During that period of time, while I was with the city, these kids I would see when they’re 10 would grow and be 18 or 19-years-old and start getting into real trouble,” Demeuse said. “I moved into education because, hopefully, I could make a better impact on kids who may be heading towards difficulty later on.”

He would then get his teaching certification and eventually, a masters in ed leadership from Eastern Michigan University.

“I taught math and science for two years for middle school, and I also taught language arts and social studies for middle school,” he said.

Previously, he has also worked as a co-principal, principal, dean of students and transportation director at previous schools.

Even though he is from the Upper Peninsula, Demeuse said he knew very little about the Stephenson area and school district before accepting the position as principal.

“I did my research on the district when I was applying for the position, you know, enrollment size, academics and things like that but as far as any details, I didn’t know too much,” Demeuse said. “It’s a whole new environment.”

Currently, Demeuse said he is happy to learn from those who have been with the school district longer than he has and to work with people who know more about it than himself.

“Right now, coming in as a new principal, there are things you would like to maybe implement after a period of time, but right now there has been a ton of work to get the Stephenson School District to where it is now,” he said. “I’m not planning on making any major changes. The first step is to get through COVID, get teachers and parents comfortable with the new online and in person options and go day-by-day.

“After that, I am sure we will be able to get together as a group and discuss where we want to take the school in the future, but right now, I’m letting the school board and facility teach me about this district,” he said. “They’ve done the hard work to get it to where it is today, and they know what has worked and has not worked in the past.”

He said once COVID is over, he believes the school board and staff can continue making the district even better than it is now.

“I can’t even tell you how nice and helpful everyone has been,” Demeuse said. He said this includes, not only the school board and Stephenson School District staff, but also the staff of surrounding schools and community members who he has had the chance to meet.

“I can’t thank people enough, it’s been so pleasant to come back to the U.P. and particularly the Stephenson area, I have not meant a single person who wasn’t smiling and overwhelmingly helpful. I never would have imagined it, it has been so pleasant.”

“I’m extremely excited to continue to work here, there’s going to be long days I’m looking forward to all of them. There’s something new every day. It’s just, overwhelmingly exciting,” he said.