High school principal looks back on his years in Manchester
Thirteen years ago, Manchester moved into its new high school building on Dutch Drive. Among the new teachers hired that fall was Kevin Mowrer, a young English and Social Studies teacher who had moved back home to Michigan after a two-year stint in Chicago.
A native of Adrian and a graduate of Lenawee Christian High School, Mowrer majored in English at Western Michigan University and then earned his master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Northeastern Illinois University. In 2006, Mowrer was selected as principal of Manchester High School, a position he has held ever since. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2014.
Now, as the district is making major changes, Mowrer and his growing family are also at a crossroads. Last month, his wife, Stacy, accepted a job with Delta Faucet Co. in Indianapolis and Kevin is now re-setting expectations for his own future.
“I can try what I want,” he says. “I expect that eventually, I will return to teaching in some way … maybe higher education; I think that would be my preference. It’s late in the hiring process to get a position this year, so I may take time off and do some writing. I will be looking at a lot of options.”
His primary focus at first will be getting his children–Chloe, Will, and Max–established in their new home and schools.
“It will be a challenge,” he admits. “We are leaving our family, our friends, here in Michigan. We weren’t really building up to this–Stacy’s opportunity came rather suddenly. I’ve been very happy here and I am looking forward to working with whoever follows me in this position. I hope to have some time to collaborate with that person.”
Reflecting back on his career at Manchester, Mowrer says that his best moment each year has been at graduation. “I have tried to make sure that students are open to multiple paths to success,” he says. “And every year at graduation as their achievements and their plans are read off, I’m just so pleased that each of the students can follow their own dreams for the future.”
His second favorite memories are of re-connecting with alumni as he sees them pursuing those goals and dreams. “Seeing what they are doing, what they have become … it makes me realize that the work we’re doing here is very important,” he says.
He takes pride how the school has evolved under his leadership; he believes that the culture of the high school has become one that welcomes students and helps them to be themselves. He sees this as an extension of how the Manchester community welcomes and nurtures its residents. “It’s already a part of who we are,” he says. “It’s what differentiates us from the other neighboring districts.”
Mowrer particularly enjoys going on the field trips that he has initiated, where students are able to visit consortium classes, colleges, and discover a variety of resources that will help them realize their dreams of success. “It helps to open their minds; to realize all that is possible,” he says.
He will miss working with his fellow staff, as well as with parents, students, and the Manchester community at large. “Whoever follows me is going to be very lucky to have everything in place,” he said. “Some of this has been good fortune; some of it has been good planning. We have a passionate and experienced staff, who really love the kids. I will really miss them.
“My successor will bring a new energy and a different perspective to this office, and yet they will face some of the same challenges. We need to work on enrollment, and actively try to attract kids who need what our district can offer them. We may want to work within the community to create more affordable housing options for young families with children.”
He stresses that Manchester Community Schools has a lot of great things to offer its students. “We started three years ago with one student taking online dual enrollment classes, right here in our media center. This year, we have 46 kids in dual enrollment. We have a great resource in Hollie Kolcz, our counselor, who can guide them in the right direction. She’s a great complement to the dual enrollment program.”
He added that one unique thing about the teachers at Manchester High School under his leadership, is that each staff member–in the high school and throughout the district–has an individualized professional development plan. “We have tried to be flexible and personalize these plans, to capitalize on each teacher’s strengths,” he said.
Asked if he had any parting words to Manchester, Mowrer said, “The biggest thing I can say is to care about and be kind to one another. That’s what I’ve experienced here, and I hope that will continue–that welcoming spirit.”