In the wake of another change at the helm, Waltrip High School was in limbo – but now it has a native son of sorts to lead its charge into the future.
According to the school’s website, Michael Niggli, Jr. has been selected to serve as the next principal of Waltrip High School after former principal Dale Mitchell took an SSO position within HISD last week. He comes directly from Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center where he has been serving as the Associate Principal, with 21 years under his belt as a teacher and administrator in HISD.
“My entire tenure in HISD has all been in large, comprehensive high schools, and Waltrip has many of the great qualities of schools I’ve previously worked at,” he told The Leader Tuesday.
Niggli brings not only a wealth of experience in HISD, but also in the local community – he previously lived in the Garden Oaks area for seven years, and had just moved back before being selected over the weekend. And when he received the call, there was no hesitation.
“I really enjoy the concept of the school leader being a community leader as well, so it just made sense to me – the fit of the school being where my knowledge base is, and being someone who can contribute to the school as well as the environment,” he said. “My interactions with Waltrip students while I was at other schools is that they’re just great kids. There are great kids all throughout Houston, but I’ve just never forgotten the kind of pleasantries of spirit of the Waltrip kids whenever I’ve seen them around.”
Niggli consistently reiterated his desire and commitment to leading Waltrip and providing stability – especially considering he will be the school’s third new principal since the beginning of 2013.
During his time at Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center, Niggli worked under three different principals, so he is no stranger to turnover and the effects it can have on a school — and desires nothing more than to help the school and community put its faith in him.
“Sometimes with those rapid-fire changes can come fear and anxiety from the staff and community, which we don’t want. We want the school to be comfortable, I want the community to feel comfortable. I’m not looking to come in here and cause drastic here necessarily, because there are already so many great programs happening here and new programs getting off the ground that I’d like to support,” he said. “Moving into this community again, I want to be here for at least 10 years if the district will have me. I want to establish consistency, reliability and leadership at the school and let the community know I’m here for the long haul with Waltrip to take it to the next level.”
In recent years, Waltrip has experienced a lot of success with the school’s band — back-to-back years of earning UIL Sweepstakes — along with other UIL and athletic programs and diverse club offerings. Niggli said he would like to accentuate those opportunities, thus ensuring a chance for every student every single kid can have something to do inside Waltrip’s walls, something extra that gives them extra motivation.
Further, he believes doing so should not be difficult, as he senses a positive environment about the school in terms of its attitude towards students, which provides a solid foundation.
“We’re here for the kids first, so if we’re all in on taking care of these students, it’s going to have a butterfly effect from there, and the school is really going to take off,” he said. “I get the feeling there are a lot of passionate teachers here who are inspired by their content and helping students, and those are the kinds of teachers we want to help grow and make our school even stronger.”