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GHS grad makes full circle, takes principal position at GEMS

Grangeville High School graduate Susan Anderson will take the helm of Grangeville Elementary Middle School starting with the 2015-16 school year.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Grangeville High School graduate Susan Anderson will take the helm of Grangeville Elementary Middle School starting with the 2015-16 school year.

— A new face in the Grangeville Elementary Middle School principal’s chair is actually a familiar face to GEMS.

Although Dr. Susan Anderson only taught at GEMS for one year previously to taking the helm from outgoing principal Alica Holthaus, she has been a part of Grangeville for many more years.

“I was born in Bremerton, Wash., but raised right here in Grangeville,” she smiled. “This has always been home.”

Anderson, the daughter of Ralph and Linnie Anderson, attended all her school years in Grangeville.

It was in Mrs. Kissinger’s fourth-grade class when Anderson decided she wanted to attend college.

“It’s something I will always remember, making that decision,” she said. “No one in my immediate family had been to college, so this was an important decision.”

Following graduation she went on to Whitman College in Walla Walla then married her high school sweetheart, Randy Owens. He was in the Army and they spent a lot of time traveling. In the meantime she obtained a BA in studio fine art at Colorado Springs. Her husband and father both died unexpectedly, in 1981 and 1982, respectively.

She was able to be a stay-at-home mom and raise her son and daughter in Colorado, then in 1993 took an elementary teaching job in Athol where she spent three years educating sixth graders.

She then moved back to Colorado where she taught sixth grade, worked as a technology specialist, as a literary coach and as a gifted and talented teacher.

“I was kind of the perpetual student myself,” she smiled. Anderson obtained two masters, one in procurement management and one in curriculum and instruction. She did some contract work for the Air Force and eventually obtained a master’s degree from the University of Denver in education leadership. She also earned her principal’s license and is certified in gifted/talented education.

Last year, Anderson moved back to Grangeville and began teaching at GEMS as a kindergarten through fifth-grade specialist.

“This is such a wonderful place to live,” she said. “I feel so blessed to be here. I always knew I would be back, I just wasn’t sure under what circumstances that would be.”

When Holthaus’ husband took a job in Missouri, she asked Anderson to apply for the position and Anderson was hired.

Now, Anderson’s mom has also died, but she is living in the same house she grew up in.

“It’s great,” she smiled. “I get to walk to school every day. I take the same route I did when I was a kid.”

Anderson said she looks forward to getting to know GEMS students and families even better. She can be reached at 983-0400 or by e-mailing


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