Dr. Schwamb retires after 31 years in education


Ridhima Kodali, Managing Editor

She briefly looked to the side and questioned, “One word?… One word, to describe my experience being a principal at Huron?” 

Dr. Janet Schwamb, who has been Huron’s principal for seven years, took a pause. 

She then looked straight into the camera. 

 “It’s been awesome,” Schwamb said. “When I first walked through the halls of Huron, I felt it. There are very strong connections between the staff and the students, which I have never felt anywhere else.”

On May 5, 2021,  Schwamb announced that she would be retiring from Ann Arbor Public Schools on July 1, 2021. 

Schwamb thought about retiring for a year now. Working full time as a principal of a high school during a pandemic kept her busy due to the demanding schedule.

“There’s a lot of reasons why a person decides to retire and a lot of it is for personal reasons,” Schwamb said. “I’ve spent about 48 years of my life — 17 of them as a registered professional nurse and nurse administrator, and 31 years in the area of education  —  in the workforce, so I just felt like it was time for me to spend time and really enjoy it with family and friends, as well as pursuing some new things.” 

However, Schwamb’s journey didn’t start in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It began in the suburbs of New York, just a train ride from Manhattan. In fact, before she was an educator, Schwamb was a registered professional nurse and nursing administrator. 

She attended Our Lady of Mercy, a Catholic Elementary school and went to a public high school in Long Island. Afterward, she attended Catholic Medical Center for nursing school. While she worked as a nurse, Schwamb went to Long Island University where she got her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Schwamb also obtained a master’s in health science at Stony Brook University. 

“There were very few female physicians, as many females were encouraged to go into nursing, in my generation,” Schwamb said. “I was always interested in pursuing nursing, but when I graduated high school, a part of me wanted to be a nurse, but another part of me really wanted to be a teacher. It was just something I really wanted to do.”

So, after a lot of thought, Schwamb decided to switch careers. In year 15 of her 17 years as a nurse, she got her teaching degree at Long Island University where she got her Professional Diploma in Education administration. As well as a doctorate in Educational Administration from Hofstra University.

You have to really love what you do and switching careers is scary, but, you know, it was an opportunity to grow for me. We are not always successful at everything we want to be successful at, but that does not mean we cannot be successful.

— Dr. Schwamb


“I really think it’s important to follow your passion,” Schwamb said. “You have to really love what you do and switching careers is scary, but, you know, it was an opportunity to grow for me. We are not always successful at everything we want to be successful at, but that does not mean we cannot be successful.”

For Schwamb, becoming a health education teacher was a natural transition, from a clinical to educational setting. She taught it for seven years. 

“I really loved teaching it,” Schwamb admitted. “I really was able to talk about real life experiences rather than having students read it in an article or textbook. I took a big leap of faith and I actually thought being like a nurse is a lot like being like a teacher. Nurses teach their patients on how to take care of themselves or a clearer understanding of what exactly was happening to them, and I felt like I was doing this, but whenever I walk back into an emergency room, I feel like I am right back home.” 

As much as Schwamb enjoyed teaching health education, she ended up moving to Michigan to pursue more opportunities. 

She worked as principal of Forsythe Middle School, became interim principal at Huron High School for one year, followed by five years of being the permanent principal of Huron High School. 

“As principal, I see the whole picture and make sure we are doing the very best we can and also how we can continue to improve to serve our students and the learning community,”  Schwamb said. “It’s a big job to continue to move our school forward.”

For 16 years, Schwamb has been working for AAPS and has truly enjoyed her time at Huron High School. 

“It’s the best school that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work in,” Schwamb said. “I find the staff hardworking and committed. I appreciate their support for the years I have been principal. It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with such a diverse student population, I enjoyed it. Working at Huron has been the highlight of my educational career.” 

According to Schwamb, thinking about retiring and taking the extra step, it was never a  moment that made her decide, but a process — doing all of the paperwork and hitting that final submit button from the state. 

“It’s really more of a mental process; [retiring] isn’t a spontaneous decision,” Schwamb said. “You can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want to retire.’ It’s a process, at least it was for me. Like, when I wanted to shift careers from being a nurse to a teacher, there was a lot of thinking and factors involved. Essentially, it’s a life-changing decision, and the timing has to feel right. If it isn’t, then it’s probably not the right decision.” 

Although Schwamb’s career in public education is coming to an end, after 31 years, Schwamb is interested in teaching at a university, but nothing is set it in stone yet. 

“I am probably going to and want to keep my fingers in it, just a little bit,” Schwamb said. “I just think I have a lot to offer to those who want to become teachers or administrators.”  

Schwamb mentioned how the district has a “well-defined process” and how her position has been advertised and those who are interested may apply to it. 

Additionally, all staff have been communicated to what the exact process and timeline is, and are “100 percent aware” Schwamb stated. 

“This whole process will most likely take place during the summer, and with school starting August 30, I believe it is very achievable,” Schwamb said. “I would say to the new principal how fortunate they are to work at Huron, how amazing the staff and students are and when making decisions, focus on what is best for the students and look through the lens of equity.” 

For Dr. Janet Schwamb, being a nurse and an educator were never two separate careers, but an integration of professions.  Her story still goes on, not only as an educator, but also a lifelong learner. 

“It has been a great journey,” Schwamb said. “You know, it’s always bittersweet to say goodbye, but it feels right to move on to the next phase of my life. I’m honored, grateful and privileged to have been able to serve as the principal of Huron. I appreciate all the support I have received from the staff, students and families. It was an incredible experience. Some can’t say they have two careers, but I did and I have enjoyed every minute of them.”