Lowell Middle School has been a place of change during the past year, as the school building undergoes a significant renovation and expansion. However, that’s not the only change that’s taken place in 2021. The school also welcomed a new principal, Abby Wiseman, this year.
No stranger to the world of education, Wiseman had more than 15 years teaching and administrative experience in Kenowa Hills Public Schools prior to coming to Lowell. As she now gets ready to wrap up her first trimester with Lowell Area Schools, she says her first months with the district have been engaging and rewarding.
From Basketball Coach to Administrator
Wiseman grew up near Lansing in St. Johns, a community she says is similar to Lowell. There, she attended St. Johns Public Schools, where she was a standout athlete in basketball and softball and inducted into the district’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.
She went to play four years of basketball at Eastern Michigan University while she studied for an undergraduate degree in secondary education. After graduation, Wiseman pursued a successful career as an assistant basketball coach for teams at EMU, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.
“Then I decided to use my degree and get into teaching,” Wiseman explains. She landed a job teaching language arts at Kenowa Hills High School and returned to school herself to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership from GVSU.
After about seven years teaching, she worked as the Dean of Students and a principal for Kenowa before deciding to throw her hat into the ring for the position of principal at Lowell Middle School.
“[I’d] heard great about Lowell,” Wiseman says, and she knew Craig Veldman, who serves as principal for Cherry Creek Elementary School. “Craig had nothing but good things to say about [the district].”
LAS obviously liked what they heard about Wiseman too as she rose to the top of applicants for the position of Lowell Middle School principal. She was approved for the job shortly before the start of the school year.
“Learning How to Be Little Humans”
For Wiseman, the middle school years are challenging, but in an exciting way. Children grow and learn so much during this time, pushing boundaries and exploring how to navigate social relationships.
“They are learning how to be little humans,” Wiseman says. “That’s what’s so great about them.”
The challenge is helping kids make smart decisions while also giving them space to explore their personalities and passions. “We have to be culturally responsive and understand each kid brings with them their individual needs and experiences,” Wiseman says.
The principal sees parents as partners in helping students achieve their potential. In some cases, parents may be concerned or unsure about behavior they see in their children, but school staff may have seen countless students walk a similar path and have a good grasp of what is normal in middle school and what could be cause for concern.
“[We] help parents navigate the changes they see,” Wiseman says. “We are on the same team, and your [child] is going to be ok.”
As the first trimester comes to a close in Lowell Area Schools, Wiseman says she is stuck by how the community rallies around the schools. That was something she didn’t see as much in Kenowa Hills, where the school district isn’t attached to a specific city as it is in Lowell.
“People love their Lowell Red Arrows,” she notes. She has also found the community to be welcoming and caring and says the teachers in Lowell are “amazing.”
Looking forward to the months to come, Wiseman says she is glad to be in Lowell and she has approached her job with a singular focus: “My goal is always to create the optimal learning environment for kids.”