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WMU alum, former principal to discuss new book

by Mark Schwerin

April 12, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Richard Njus.
WMU alumnus Richard Njus
KALAMAZOO--A longtime educator, author and Western Michigan University graduate will return to his alma mater Tuesday, April 19, to talk about his book, which is gleaned from his more than three decades in the education field.

Richard Njus will speak at 4 p.m. in the Fetzer Center's Kirsch Auditorium as part of the College of Education and Human Development's Distinguished Speaker Series. A reception and book signing will follow his presentation in the Fetzer Center lobby.

Njus, an elementary school principal for more than 30 years, wrote the book "Touching Hearts, Educating Minds," which is described as a "story of a school with soul and determination." In an era of widespread standardized testing of students, grading of schools and government mandates placed on educators, the book shares what truly can make a difference. "Touching Hearts, Educating Minds" shows that it's not tests, curriculum and mandates, but the culture of a school in which those are played out that most deeply impacts a child's learning.

During his long career as an educator, Njus has challenged his colleagues to dream and go beyond the expectations of the educational establishment and schooling-as-usual mindset. He taught second and sixth grade before taking his first job as principal in 1979, going on to serve as principal of four elementary schools, two of which he opened.

Njus earned bachelor's and master's degrees in educational leadership at WMU and has shared his deep passion for creating learning environments that touch the lives of students as a motivational speaker and national trainer for school volunteerism. He has led seminars on personality profiles and consulted and conducted professional development programs on leadership and culture development in schools. He has also worked with the U.S. China Center at Michigan State University in the creation of a school in Beijing, China.

More information about Njus is available at