Dr. Michael Jones is our new principal

Can you tell us a little about your background and experience? How do you think you’ve been prepared to take on this role?

This is year number 29 for me as a high school leader. As a teacher leader, I taught for nine years in the public and private school system and I’ve been an instructional leader for the past 20 years. My experience has been very diversified. I’ve worked in multiple states, as well as overseas internationally, hence the “Global Ed Leader” title. All of my administrative experience has been at the high school level, so I think that is what has prepared me for this position as chief equity and instructional leader here at Lowell High School. This is not my first principalship, this is probably number five or six.

What schools were you at previously?

In California, I was principal at Mountain View. Here in the district I’ve been at Galileo, Balboa High School, and I’ve also served as interim principal.

What do you love about Lowell?

I chose Lowell because I enjoyed being in an academically stimulating environment. I too was fortunate to attend a high school that was actually very challenging for me, and competitive. I came when former principal Joe Dominguez was here, and I met with former retired principal Dacotah Swett. I also worked with the former principal Andy Ishibashi, who is colleagues with me on the association for secondary school administrators. When I visited the school site, I liked the community feel, I liked the competitiveness, I liked the fact that students are involved heavily in the school community as well as the parents, and I like the community based organizations that are part of the school. So, those were all things that attracted me to actually interview for the job.

What are some challenges you believe Lowell is facing right now? What do you plan to do to fix them?

I’ve done a lot of looking, listening, and learning. I started this process in May when I was appointed by the board and the superintendent as the principal here. I see that there is an opportunity to close some gaps in communication; that’s communication with all stakeholders, from students, parents, teachers, community based organizations, and the school district. I think that there has also been a lot of turmoil as it relates to things that have happened in the past, like lots of issues around merit based vs. lottery admissions. Those dynamics have presented an opportunity in the past for folks to come together and find common ground. And I think that’s part of my responsibility: to create a positive school culture and climate, breach the gaps between stakeholders, have positive rapport with folks, and to give agency to students. I think that is definitely something that is very necessary. I’ve started the principal’s advisory council, which is headed by student leaders from clubs and associations and student body councils that meet with me now once a month to address concerns that a lot of students have around being able to give teachers and administrators feedback about the effectiveness, or perhaps lack of effectiveness, of our school leadership here. 

Are there any programs you would like to implement in light of these challenges?

I would say the Principal’s advisory council. Out of that, I’m hoping to identify a group of students that could become Principal’s Ambassadors that would help to shape that positive school culture and climate. Again, I know it’s a process and we’re just in the beginning stages of having these collaborative conversations. I’m clear that these conversations, for whatever reason, have not been consistent, so we’re at ground zero and getting people used to having these conversations and confronting our issues, and taking our walls down so we can really address the needs of the school community as a whole.

Are there any other things that you want the Lowell community to know about?

I want people to know that I am having a blast. I am really having a blast and it’s not something that I dread. I’m here because I want to be here. I plan to stay here until I feel like my time is up. I am on a trajectory as a professional as well, and I think Lowell is my last stop in terms of my final high school principalship before I get back into senior administrative leadership, so I’m really honored and humbled to be at such a prestigious educational organization such as Lowell, I feel like this is a dream. It’s a dream to be a part of this, and to contribute to history. I think also It’s important to have stability here, in leadership. Unfortunately, we are all strained by the inconsistencies. As you might have heard, regarding the district’s payroll and staff, I am not excluded from that; just so that folks know, I too am experiencing those issues. Yet we still have folks who are showing up to work. We have issues of not getting paid, not getting our health insurance, not having our retirement contributions, but we’re hopeful that the district will continue to address these issues so that we can retail the people who want to be here and are passionate about the Lowell Cardinals.