Getting to know you: Dana Mills from Havasu Preparatory Academy
For eight years now, Dana Mills has been the leader at Havasu Preparatory Academy. Located on Lake Havasu City’s south side, the public charter school has 250 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.
HPA is operated by The Leona Group. The private company has tuition-free charter schools in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. It operates 66 schools, 27 of which are in Arizona.
Mills, 37, said that what sets HPA apart is its focus on preparing students for college, starting in kindergarten.
“We teach organization, which is a skill our students will use in all areas of their lives. We teach how to take notes. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to do that,” Mills said. “We also use AVID, a national college prep program. It stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.”
A graduate of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mills recently sat down with Today’s News-Herald for an interview.
Family: Mills and her husband, Trevor, are parents of two sons, Jameson and Jackson.
Hometown: Fraser, Michigan.
Hobbies: Reading and camping.
What was your best surprise? When my husband proposed to me. We had gone to the Island to watch the sunset. We brought our two dogs so they could play on the beach. I was tossing a ball to the dogs, having a good time. But Trevor was not himself. He was so nervous. I said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Then I found out why he was so nervous.
If you had a free weekend, what would you do with it? We would be in Williams, camping in our motorhome and going on Razor rides.
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Reading. And sitting and watching my boys play.
What is your travel essential?
Where is your next vacation taking you?
Actually, nowhere. This is the first Christmas that we will be home in a very long time. And I’m planning a girls weekend to Palm Springs.
What’s one goal you still hope to achieve? Get my Master’s in administrative leadership.
What’s your favorite TV show?
“This is Us” and “A Milllion Little Things.” We don’t have cable or watch much TV, but I like those shows.
What’s the best thing you’ve bought in the last six months? We bought a motorhome. This one is newer and replaced the other one, which was a “project.”
What’s your most recent splurge?
I bought a new purse, a Michael Kors. It’s black. It’s my little black purse.
If you could have an extraordinary talent or skill, what would you choose? I wish I could sing.
If you could change lives with anyone for a day, who would you like to be? If it was only for one day, I’d like to be Oprah. I’d just like to see what her life is like.
What’s the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? Being a mom and having two beautiful, healthy boys.
What’s your ideal vacation?
On a beach, listening to the waves.
What’s the craziest, most impulsive thing you’ve ever done that you can talk about? I moved across the country from Michigan to California. I didn’t have a job. California didn’t really work out. Then I jumped on the crazy wagon again and moved to Arizona. It was a great decision.
What song makes you nostalgic?
“Abracadabra” by Steve Miller. I used to roller skate to that one.
What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? That I have my motorcycle license.
What’s left on your life’s “to-do” list? I want to write a children’s book.
What was your worst job? I was a telemarketer for a short time in high school. A girlfriend and I thought we were going to make so much money selling lawn fertilization. There was lots of rejection.
What book is on your nightstand? ”Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis.
What are your treasures?
Besides my children, my grandma’s wedding ring. And my other grandma’s pearls. I wear them both.
Is there a store you visit often?
Smith’s (grocery). It seems like I go there a lot.