Sister Marie Michael Jacobs once wanted to be a missionary nurse, improving the lot of others in far-off lands. It was the grace of God, she figures, that led her to another sort of mission in the heart of Grand Rapids: administering education to the children of St. Andrew’s School.
In her 18th year at St. Andrews, in 1986, she was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education National Distinguished Principals Program. Jacobs was nominated by the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.
Sister Rosemary Smith, then diocesan assistant superintendent, said Jacobs has made “contributions to not only the wellbeing of the educational community, but to the community at large.”
“The learning environment at St. Andrew’s is extraordinary,” said Smith. “I really attribute that to her acuity in being able to hire teachers that are just superb.” An emphasis on close teacher-parent relationships has been a cornerstone of Jacobs’ administrative policy since she came to the school at 302 Sheldon Ave. SE in 1968. A member of the Marywood Dominicans and a graduate of Aquinas College, her interest changed from nursing to teaching after working in an innercity school in Saginaw.