MENOMINEE - Principal Bill Paris believes issues facing students at Menominee Junior-Senior High School aren't any different than those in other communities.

"They have a lot of things going on in their lives so we have to try to bridge that gap between their world and education and give them the skills to be successful," he said.

Paris, 41, a Marinette native who played tight end on the undefeated 1989 Marinette state championship football team, also wants to provide students with a safe environment where they can take educational risks, collaborate with peers and develop leadership abilities necessary for college or the work force.

"What can we do to help prepare them for that because that's going to happen tomorrow," he said. "It'll be here before they know it."

Paris and Assistant Principal Alison Granquist recently began their duties in the school district.

"We're excited with their enthusiasm and experience," said Interim Superintendent Mike Cattani. "They're very dynamic. Two new administrators in one building is a tough task, but I believe they're doing a good job."

Paris previously served as principal and athletic director at Bessie Allen Middle School in North Fond du Lac, Wis., for four years.

"Coming here felt right and this is where I want to be," he said. "The last month has been a whirlwind of reconnecting with old relationships.

"Classmates of mine have children in (grades) 6 through 12. It's been a great experience and you feel like you've come full-circle."

Paris earned a bachelor's degree in history and social studies from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., and a master's degree in educational leadership from Marion College in Fond du Lac, Wis. His master's includes teaching endorsements for principal preK-12 and director of pupil services.

"The teachers and coaches (Joel Hanner, Tim Stauss and Floyd LeBouton) I encountered in middle school and high school had an enormous impact on my life," Paris said. "That's where I got my passion for teaching and athletics."

He lives in Menominee with his wife, Molly, a former teacher, and daughters Emma, 8 and Maira, 5.

Granquist said people need to know that most students are "great, smart kids doing awesome things" but that message hasn't been as prevalent in the community.

"So many positive, wonderful things happen every single day in the school and that's the story people need to know," she said. "People (also) need to know how hard teachers and kids are working. We do have students who are absolutely thriving in these two buildings."

Granquist, 41, a Wabeno, Wis., native, wants to diminish the amount of instructional time lost to behavioral issues; ensure students become actively engaged and excited about learning; bridge the relationship between school and community through newly-initiated academic news blasts and integrate homeless, at-risk and special education students into the general curriculum.

"My first step to everything is asking a lot of questions," she said. Granquist cited Mary Stein, director of special education for the Menominee County Intermediate School District, as a mentor and resource. "She's phenomenal. So I've been working really closely with her."

Granquist, who previously worked as a social worker, program coordinator and principal for 12 years at Green Bay Area Public Schools, likes the small town feel of a rural school district.

"I love it," she said. "I love it. I do. It's just a really nice change."

Granquist earned a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a master's degree in social work and a master's certification in administration leadership from UW-Milwaukee along with several certifications in alcohol and drug abuse counseling.

"I felt becoming a school administrator would allow me to have more of a global impact with a school versus an individual impact with certain students," she said.

Granquist lives in Menominee with her husband, Peter, and son, Jackson Draheim, 6.