Principal search is paused to encourage more candidates


The Ann Arbor Public Schools has put a pause on the search for the next Pioneer principal.

In an email to staff on Jan. 18, Jazz Parks, assistant superintendent and school leadership, explained that there is going to be a brief break in the search. “We are going to recalibrate and repost the principal position,” she said, “so that we can bring forward the most robust slate of candidates possible to the building-level interview teams.” 

The district had previously posted the position and developed a slate of three candidates to be interviewed by Pioneer staff, but at least one of those candidates reportedly backed out because the process was taking too long. 

 Parks went on to say that “Once we identify additional candidates through the initial part of the interview process, we will engage with the Pioneer community to resume plans to conduct the building-level interviews.” She also said that the process will take a “few weeks.”

Colin Clifford, a first-year teacher in the building, says that he is looking for a candidate who will implement a stricter attendance policy for students. “For too long, the students have been able to get away with not coming to class, and we’re really doing a massive disservice to students allowing that to continue,” he said. 

Clifford added that he would like students to know what to expect after they leave high school. “A bit more higher expectations for the students from freshman year all the way through the senior year,” he said. 

Jamie McDowell, a veteran teacher who has been through six principals, says that she is looking for a candidate who likes and supports the teachers and students. “ You should meet a principal and say, ‘Okay, they seem like a nice person who knows what they’re doing,”’ she said. 

A special education teacher, McDowell added that a good relationship with a principal has a big impact on her job. “I have to talk with principals, sometimes with people who are on my caseload, things like that, to help resolve issues that occur and need their support. They sign my (legal special education) documents,” she said. 

Naomi Kaczor, a senior at Pioneer, says that she has heard that people will be on panels, including staff and students, interviewing the candidates. She said she is looking for a principal who will put students first. “Someone that cares about students, and wants the best for the students and the faculty of the school,” she said.

A principal is important, she said, because a lot of things students want to see happen can only happen through a principal. “They’re the ones that can make changes and keep things running smoothly,” Kaczor said.