Get to know a little of Ginelle Boyle’s story


By Sheila Cote

The trajectory of our lives takes shape from the moment we enter the world. Who we become is based on our environments, families, positive experiences, traumas, and most importantly, the people in our worlds who are willing and able to influence us, whether it be your parents, aunties, teachers, or even possibly — a school principal.

As I recently sat in the principal’s office at Columbia Elementary School, I met such a person — Ginelle Boyle.

Born in Coleman, Michigan, Ginelle is the middle child with two brothers. From a very young age, Ginelle never wavered, “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I would gather all the kids in the neighborhood and line them up in my basement. I was their teacher whether they were older than me or younger than me.”

Ginelle Boyle and her husband, Tracy.

After her first year of college (where she also played college basketball for a year), at 19 years old, Ginelle married her first husband. Although the marriage ended in divorce, together, they shared 28 years and had three daughters: Megan (25), Madison (23), and Mariah (21).

Of all the chapters of Ginelle’s life that I would like to share (and there are many!), there is one chapter that I MUST share.

Ginelle resided in several locations in Michigan, but she and her family eventually landed in Jackson. In the fall of 2016, she accepted a job posting as “Assistant Director of Early Childhood” in Ypsilanti, an hour’s drive each way from her home.

“I thought, ‘Oh great, I won’t be the director, but the assistant.’ I arrived on the first day, and one of my staff at the school meeting asked, “Are you our new principal?” “I was like, Yeah . . . I was shocked. I also had no idea that the population of my building was only two percent white. For the first time, I was the minority — and I loved that.”

Ginelle’s daughters, Mariah, Madison and Megan.

As with any new transition, there was much to learn, “It stretched me. I had to think about what other cultures might be thinking or dealing with daily. I had to give up a sense of control and learn to embrace what was around me because it was so different from what I had grown up with or dealt with my whole life.

“The behaviors were so hard the first year that I wanted to quit every day.”

An experienced staff, some of whom had been at the school for 15-20, helped Ginelle do what she taught her three daughters to do when life is difficult, “You just put one foot in front of the other and keep going when you don’t feel like going.

“Another first-year teacher was also struggling, and each day we would say to each other, ‘We’re not going to quit today, we’re going to make it.’ — and we did!”

Over time, the change from struggling to embracing the daily challenges happened until Ginelle realized one day how much she loved what she was doing. “I do believe we land where we’re supposed to be, even though I wondered, ‘what am I doing going in’- it all comes full circle.”

From the first year of dealing with behaviors every single day to the fifth year, Ginelle notes that there were hardly any behaviors due to the culture they established in the building, “A lot of teachers think it’s about discipline, but it’s about relationships. If a child is in a relationship with you, they behave better. It takes time. It’s not about discipline; it’s about restoring them.”

When Ginelle met her future husband, Tracy, she knew she needed to find something closer to the Jackson area where they wanted to settle. This decision led her to apply for the principal position at Columbia Elementary School.

In January of 2022, Ginelle became the principal of Columbia Elementary School, and from the smile on her face, I would say she has landed where she’s supposed to be. “I love it here — the staff is phenomenal! I feel like I’m already at home; this is where I want to retire.”

In reflecting on her 5 1/2 years as a principal in Ypsilanti, Ginelle shares, “It changed me to the core. It changed how I deal with behaviors with children now. When I look at a child’s behavior, I think about WHY they act out. There are no troubled kids; they have something they are working on.”

In all of our life stories, there’s an underlying common thread of how the challenging times we face often become the memories we treasure and the times that affect the most profound change and impact.

“All my jobs and experiences have brought me to this point where I can do what I am doing. If I hadn’t learned what I learned at the different jobs, this (being principal) wouldn’t be possible.”

Ginelle Boyle is a principal in the Columbia School District.

I admire Ginelle’s authenticity and passion for life — fueled with tenacity, dedication, and persistence. She casually touches on her education as we wrap up our interview: a bachelor’s in elementary education, a master’s in early childhood and curriculum and instruction, a master’s in administration and policy research, and almost a master’s in special education, not to mention multiple professional development certifications.

From the shy little girl who hid behind her parent’s legs as a kid to the confident woman who professes that there’s “not a kid that she doesn’t like,” Ginelle’s parting thought is one to remember: “Out of everything I do, I want my legacy to be being a mom. I love my girls so much; they are amazing. I want them to see that I am strong. I want them to look back and know that I loved them.”

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