Administrative changes cause Michael Bakker to become the interim principal

Bree Soule, Online Editor-in-Chief

Fenton High has recently undergone an administrative change. Former Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Michael Bakker has taken on the position of interim principal at Fenton High. This resulted from former Principal Laura Lemke resigning from her position. 

On Dec. 12, Superintendent Dr. Adam Hartley sent out a letter detailing this information to the staff and students, announcing Lemke will be returning to her previous position as assistant principal (AP).

Hartley stated in the letter, “Mrs. Lemke cares about our student body, cares about our families and is committed to helping in any way she can to have a successful 2022. After spending this time reflecting on both her personal and professional responsibilities, Mrs. Lemke has decided to resign her position as FHS principal and serve as the FHS assistant principal moving forward. Those of you that know Mrs. Lemke knows that she is committed to Fenton High School and especially committed to helping our students succeed.”

Lemke resigning from her position was not an easy decision to make on her part.

“As with any job change, it is a combination of both professional and personal reasons, but rest assured, I missed the interaction with students that is an integral part of the AP role and I’m excited to be back working with students,” Lemke said. “It is always a difficult decision to make a change because so many people are impacted, besides yourself— including your family, your co-workers and the staff/students/parents that one serves on a daily basis. However, finding balance in what you love to do and what others around you also need, is important for overall health and happiness.”

While it was a difficult decision for Lemke, she feels her former role fits her better as she can continue doing what she loves in a healthier way.

“I do believe the AP position fits what I am passionate about,” Lemke said, “and that is helping young people learn to problem solve, overcome obstacles and earn their diploma so they can go on and create his/her future selves.” 

Initially Bakker was put in the position of interim principal on a week by week basis while Lemke was out on leave. Just before winter break, Bakker was asked to maintain this position for the remainder of the school year.

“I am excited about this opportunity,” Bakker said. “With any new position, there will be a learning curve in the new position and in some instances I will have already been well prepared because I am in my 18th year at FHS. I will certainly have to work diligently to quickly familiarize myself with new processes. I have always been a lifelong learner and often try to challenge myself to be a better person and better educator and this opportunity is certainly an opportunity to learn and grow personally and professionally.”

Given Bakker’s experience and time spent at FHS, he has a developed understanding of the role he is expected to fill.

Hatley’s letter stated, “I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Bakker as a leader and I believe keeping him in the role he has served the last two weeks while Mrs. Lemke has been away is what is best for everyone.”

Administration is currently looking for an interim athletic director and is hoping to find a suitable candidate no later than the end of January. Until then, Bakker is overseeing both positions. If students have questions regarding athletics, they should first speak with FHS Athletic Coordinator Renee Dailey in the athletic office. If needed, she will then direct the student to Bakker. 

“Ultimately, students can always check in with me for athletic purposes,” Bakker said, “but once we fill the interim athletic director role, that would be their first point of contact.”

At the end of the school year, Bakker is unsure whether he’d like to continue being principal or if he’d like to return to his previous position as athletic director/assistant principal.

“My first and foremost concern is to make a smooth transition to this position and to support the staff and students at FHS to the best of my ability,” Bakker said. “There will be a time where I will need to reflect more on that question, but to date, I’m not thinking about that.”

As the school year continues, Bakker is working to not only fill the principal position, but also reach goals set by the administration and himself.

“This is my 18th year at FHS and I am both personally and professionally very invested in the success of not only FHS, but Fenton Schools as a whole,” Bakker said. “My goal as an educator, regardless of what title I have, is to help students find ways to be successful in pursuing their goals while here as well as while they prepare for what comes after they leave FHS. I encourage students to talk with me, another administrator or any staff member for that matter if there are things that they would like to see done at FHS. Often some of the best ideas are student-driven. We will look at all ideas and see if they can be incorporated into what we do at FHS to make our school better for everyone.”

The new administrative changes are included below:

Interim Principal: Michael Bakker

Assistant Principal: Zachary Bradley 

Assistant Principal: Laura Lemke

Interim Athletic Director: TBD