In August of 2014 Pioneer High School welcomed a new principal into the purple and white family, Tracey Lowder. Since principal Michael White’s retirement from Pioneer, the school has seen an array of different leaders, none of which remained at the school for more than a year. “It’s been evident the past two years that administrative competence has been, for lack of a better term, inadequate,” says Pioneer Junior Basil Baccouche. “We haven’t remained consistent with school policies and traditions and it has shown.”
It seems that consistency is regarded highly across the boards at Pioneer. Teacher Jennifer Kunec hopes that Lowder will create an environment where students and staff feel more secure. “It’s not so much a change [Pioneer] needs, it’s stability,” she says.
Already reactions to Lowder’s process have been positive. “I was fortunate to get an inside glimpse of the way Lowder is structuring his policies … a couple days before school began and I’m very satisfied with his prioritization,” says Baccouche. “He’s hiring and establishing school norms with permanence in mind and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Senior Brittany Thomas has also been pleased with Lowder’s immediate clarity. “I think he’s been doing a good job of connecting to us and explaining how he wants the school to run,” she says.
As far as Lowder’s current plan for the school, school spirit is first on the list. “[I’d like] to help this place get back to where it was in the way of school spirit and student body participation,” he says. “One change we do have is that students are able to get into school-sponsored activities with their IDs, that’s something we felt was necessary to increase participation.”
Coming from an associate principal’s position at Jackson high school (mlive.com), Lowder is excited to learn more about the Ann Arbor community that is referred to as a “bubble.” “There’s something that pushes this community and makes it value the educational process more than other areas,” he says. “I want to find out what that is and be able to share it with everyone.”
Overall, optimism is in the air around this administration shift. “We need excitement and [Lowder] is all about that,” says Kunec. “He’s going to be our number one fan, he’s going to be the students’ number one fan.”
Lowder’s main philosophy towards his job at Pioneer suggests that he will be exactly that. “The biggest message that I can give is that I’m your principal. What can I do that’s going to help you be at your best, be it the staff, be it the students, be it the food service people, be it the custodians,” Lowder says. “If I can do that, then I’m doing my job.”
Students have a variety of requests for the new principal ranging from lunch preferences to school rules. “I believe the more controlled privileges we get, the more responsible we will be about them. As seniors I think we deserve more days for off campus lunch,” Thomas requests.
“The only change I really want to see is a transition from temporary policies to … a consistent system of regulations,” Baccouche says.
Aside from the smaller requests of students and faculty, Lowder’s main goal is to make Pioneer as incredible as it can be. “What is it that we do, as a school, that we are the most proud of?” he says. “Whatever that is, that’s what we need to make sure we show the rest of the world.”
Baccouche leaves his new principal with one last request. “Treat us like the kids you love rather than as if you’re forced to be here and everyone, yourself included, will look forward to coming back every morning.”