Ionia Public Schools Welcomes New Middle and High School Principals

IONIA – By welcoming new middle and high school principals to Ionia’s public schools, students and staff will have familiar faces leading their buildings this coming school year.

Craig Bowen

Allison Aldrich

At a special board of education meeting on Monday, board members voted unanimously — with trustee Roger Hull once again absent — to approve the hires of Allison Aldrich as the new headteacher. of Ionia Middle School and Craig Bowen as the new Principal of Ionia High School.

Superintendent Ben Gurk introduced Aldrich and Bowen to the board, expressing his confidence that the two new directors, who will each be hired on three-year contracts, were the best choices for their respective positions.

“Ms. Allison Aldrich has a passion and mission to help middle schoolers become the best versions of themselves,” he said. “We are also thrilled to introduce Mr. Craig Bowen, who brought many hats – department chair, class counselor, wrestling and baseball coach, early warning system and member of school improvement, NCA math chair, member of the leadership team and local coordinator of the evaluation.

After spending a year as the college’s deputy principal, Aldrich will replace the college’s outgoing principal, Clair Rowland.

After spending a year as high school vice principal, Bowen will replace former high school principal Jonathan Duley, who suddenly resigned in May.

Both schools will be led by their third different high school principal in as many years.

A year ago, Gurk quit his job as high school principal after being hired by the board as superintendent. As a result of this hire, former college principal Wayne Piercefield was hired as Associate Superintendent of Student Success and Human Resources.

Knowing that every school has seen a revolving door of principals in recent years, board members expressed some caution in approving the hires of Aldrich and Bowen.

“I still have a little heartburn about this,” administrator Shawn Diebel said before approving Bowen’s hire. “I still think we needed a little more experience in that lead role, but Ben has satisfied me enough to know that we’re going to give Mr. Bowen everything he needs to succeed.”

“Our two new directors are relatively new to these positions,” added Board Chair Danielle Yokum. “But our superintendent has worked to alleviate some of those concerns and help our new directors deliver a leadership program to move them forward. We therefore hope for much success and learning in the coming year.

Gurk told the Daily News he had nothing but confidence in Aldrich and Bowen, adding that the two were vetted by a committee of teachers, counselors and administrators, ending with a final one-on-one interview with Gurk himself.

Additionally, the two were selected from a pool of eight applicants that included six external applicants.

“I think we recognize that these are difficult and important positions, but we have the utmost confidence in them,” he said. “They both have positive energy and we look forward to them leading our buildings.”

Speaking with the Daily News after the reunion, Aldrich and Bowen expressed their excitement and confidence in taking on their new roles.

Allison Aldrich

Aldrich, who resides in Lake Odessa, has worked in the field of education for the past 14 years, the last two of which for Ionia – last year as deputy director of the college and the year before as a college science teacher.

Prior to her time at Ionia, she worked as a principal at Muskegon Catholic Central for five years and began her career teaching in Highland, Indiana.

Aldrich received a bachelor’s degree from Olivet College and a master’s degree in education from Purdue. She said that moving to Ionia and teaching middle school, she fell in love with the school district.

“After moving here to this area, getting a job teaching Ionia, I immediately fell in love with the school system,” she said. “I was able to make the jump to the assistant lead role, and from there I knew that ultimately I wanted to be in the lead role. College is where my heart is, it is where my passion is, that’s where I want to be.

“I’m very excited about it,” she continued. “It’s a job I’ve been waiting for for a few years now. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, so I’m excited for this next step.

Aldrich said she was confident in her abilities to lead the school, pointing to the support system already in place.

“We have amazing staff here at Ionia Middle School,” she said. “To now be able to work with this staff, lead this staff, it gives me a huge sense of pride. We also have some amazing students here and I feel like I can now have an even bigger impact on their lives.

Aldrich said she will be navigating a fine line between introducing new curriculum at school and focusing on re-teaching students who are falling behind on subjects due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s really about building on what we have right now,” she said. “A big part of what we’ve realized in the last year is that kids still don’t understand what ‘normal’ is. We’re still relearning everything. So it’s really going to focus the first part of the year on these re-teaching processes, to ensure that students understand their expectations and that it is consistent across the school.

“Once that’s in place, then academics, we can really take off and see academic growth at all levels,” she continued. “There are a lot of different programs that I hope to eventually bring to the school, such as career exploration and more career days, drawing more of the community, as we move away from COVID.”

Craig Bowen

Bowen, who has lived in Ionia for 19 years, said while he had enjoyed teaching maths for over 21 years, he felt the time was right to take the next step in his career as an administrator.

“I have worked in education for over two decades and when an opportunity arises, you look for leadership,” he said. “You tell yourself that you want to take on this new role. After 21 years as a math teacher, this was one of those places where I felt it was time to make a change.

Bowen took on the role of assistant principal last year after four years teaching 7th grade math in middle school. Prior to his time at Ionia, Bowen spent 17 years teaching math at Ovid-Elsie High School.

Bowen holds a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from Olivet College and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

Bowen also expressed confidence in his ability to lead the school as the new principal, pointing to the staff already in place.

“Last year we had amazing staff, amazing kids, and if there was ever a time to jump in, with an opening, it’s now,” he said. “I have received such great support from our community, our administrative staff, the general management and our students. »

Looking to the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, Bowen aims to focus on the mental health of high school students.

“Obviously reviews are always important, but right now at the top of my list is this socio-emotional component,” he said. “Teaching students, providing them with the tools to control their emotions, succeeding when they’re not having a good day, and giving our staff the tools to teach that to those students as well… If we can say at the end of the school year where we checked that box, that we took another step forward, it’s going to be a successful year for me. Eventually, I will broaden my scope, but for now, it’s one year at a time.

Bowen added that he is also a fan of Ionia sports, having helped coach several youth sports Ionia Parks and Recreation, serving on the board of the Ionia Youth Wrestling Club, helping to develop and create the Ionia organization Travel Baseball and member of Ionia. Moose lodge.

“I’ll wrap it up with this… Go Dawgs,” he said with a smile.

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