New Interim Principal Shows Endurance

Brandon Schnurr, Web Editor

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Johnny Edwards looks over new work that’s been piling up since his arrival. On top of the new work as principal, he also has to tackle being Director of Secondary Education. Photo Credit / Brandon Schnurr

Edwards works as the Director of Secondary Education for Kalamazoo Public Schools, and he is also the new interim principal of Loy Norrix.
However, this isn’t Edwards’s first time around Loy Norrix. He used to be the principal of Loy Norrix for five years, between 2008 and 2013.
While reflecting on his time at Loy Norrix almost five years ago, he reminisced about a few of his favorite memories.
“I started alumni day [the day graduates of Norrix stop in and give insight to students] in 2008,” continued Edwards, “and now have alumni day at both Loy Norrix and Kalamazoo Central.”
Edwards also has seen a consistent, five year increase in student writing scores, helped to host former Vice President Joe Biden at Loy Norrix, helped to raise the graduation rates, and several of his former administrators are now principals within the district.
He has also noticed a few changes since his last time here, but is happy to be back and working much more closely with students.
“Enrollment is larger than what it was when I was principal,” said Edwards. “When I started in 2008, we had about twelve hundred and fifty students, and by the time I left in 2013 we were at the fifteen hundred student mark. Now Norrix enrollment has been upwards fifteen hundred, sixteen hundred per year. It’s a huge change,” Edwards said.
There have also been numerous staff and technological changes since the last time Edwards walked these halls as an official administrator of Loy Norrix.
“There’s been turnover in staff due to retirements, promotions and resignations, but one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is that student tech has evolved over the last five years.” Edwards continued, “There’s a higher percentage of students with a personal cell phone since 2013.”
When asked how long Edwards would be staying with the Loy Norrix family, Edwards answered that he would be here for the time being and that he can’t give an estimate of his stay. He is unsure what will happen if his time here becomes extended over the next several months. Currently, there are not a lot of people he feels are qualified enough to fill the position of principal that was recently posted for hire.
“I’m prepared to be here as long as I need to or as long as it takes,” Edwards said confidently.
He also feels that retaking the responsibility of being a building administrator is an invaluable experience to have as a director. Edwards is able to see the positive progress that’s being made and also what changes may be needed. For example, the district declared that freshmen algebra will be a year long course, and now being in the building, Edwards is able to see the progress this change is creating. One of the biggest experiences that Edwards is excited to gain again is that essential communication with the student body and staff.
“With the staff we now have a Google calendar, so all the staff can see what’s going on in the school,” said Edwards. “For parents we have a weekly bulletin.”
Edwards is also on the morning announcements daily and interacts with students in the hallway too. By embracing the importance of communication, Edwards is using his experience to further educate other principals and staff about its value. Students and staff are now up to date about upcoming events, incidents and rules being enforced.
Edwards and student
Mr. Edwards stands with a student during B lunch. He believes that connecting with students makes for a better school environment. Photo Credit / Devon Gross

“The expectations of this school have been clearly communicated. Before he got here, things had started to slip a little bit, but it seems he saw that when he started spending time here everyday and got right to work,” said Matthew Porco, a social studies teacher here at Norrix since 1999.
On top of taking on the responsibility of being the interim principal of Loy Norrix, Edwards has remained the Director of Secondary Education, a position which he has held since 2013. This means that he supervises and leads secondary education principals and administrators. He also meets with the principals of nine other high schools and middle schools in the Kalamazoo area to discuss various issues, attend staff meetings and meet with the KPS Board of Education to talk over problems within the high schools and middle schools. Students and staff are also aware of the new interim principal of Loy Norrix and the important role he is now playing in leading the school.
Some students are skeptical of his ideas and whether he is a good principal. Several have critiqued his work, but over all think he is doing his job well.
“I feel he’s qualified, he’s got experience with the position,” said junior Oscar Bogan.
Students aren’t the only one’s impressed by the work and ability of Edwards. Teachers, are also quite impressed by how fast he has adjusted to his position and taken charge.
“It’s clear that in the first days that he’s been back that he knows this building and sees things we need to improve upon for our building climate,” said Porco. “He has taken an active leadership role since the first day he has been here.”
So let us continue to warmly welcome Edwards. Stop in and say ‘hi,’ say ‘thank you for being here’ or acknowledge him if you see him in the hallway. He’s just a regular, friendly, down to earth guy looking out for Norrix students.