Principal Michael White retires from Ann Arbor Pioneer to take job in Illinois
AnnArbor.com file photo
After a nationwide search and a lengthy interview process, the Valley View School District approved hiring White at its board meeting on May 15. He will replace a principal who had been there only since the start of the 2011-12 school year, according to Patch.com.
White, 51, walked in to a “tough situation” at Pioneer High School in 2007, said district spokeswoman Liz Margolis. Since then, he has been both loved and criticized for his discipline and expectations of students.
“We are really going to miss him,” Margolis said. “If you were to talk to the majority of his students and staff, they’d say he’s tough but fair. I can almost personally guarantee that he knows the name of nearly every student in that building.
"His military training may come out at times, but he cares immensely about the success of his students.”
White served from 1982 to 1986 in the U.S. Rangers as part of a special operations unit. He served until 1993 in the U.S. Army Reserves and rejoined the reserves in 2006. He was called to active duty in 2010 for about a year while principal at PHS.
White said his love for the military is part of why he is so thrilled and excited for the new opportunity that exists at Bolingbrook High. The school has a large and growing Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program with about 200 students, he said.
“It’s so fitting for me,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to start up in a new place where everything that I think is important to help under-served families and kids are the things that they have in place or are working on.
“It also has truly a mix of cultures and I like that idea, too. They are looking for systemic change, and I love change and love innovation and I’m excited to help them put new routines in place.”
The Ann Arbor News file photo
White acknowledged that his adherence to routine and discipline has at times been called “heavy handed” by Ann Arbor parents.
“But I believe in not hiding anything in education and being out in front with (the challenges). There should be no secrets that are not confidential in dealing with a child’s education,” he said. “So people may not have liked my style in terms of getting what is right for Pioneer, but that’s OK.”
He said for the most part, however, leaders in the district and the people at the school have done a “nice job” of accepting what his expectations were as far as curriculum. He added he has had a “great stint” at Pioneer and feels prepared to move forward to help the progress in Bolingbrook.
Margolis said White has strengthened the school culture at Pioneer in his five years at the helm.
“He’ll be a tough act to follow, but I know he also feels comfortable with where he is leaving the school,” she said. “And as a district, we’ve been through transitions before and we’ll come out on top of this one too.”
Margolis said the process to replace White is still being determined, since he gave notice to the district late last week. But to her knowledge the position has not been posted yet, she said.