Principal shuffle in Houghton

HOUGHTON – When school is back in session in September, all three schools in the Houghton-Portage Township district will have someone new behind the principal’s desk.

High School Principal Julie Filpus will be moving to the middle school to replace Jim Luoma, who is retiring at the end of the year. Elementary School Principal Patrick Aldrich will move up to the high school to replace Filpus.

“Mr. Aldrich has a high school background, and he would like to be the administrator of the high school, and Ms. Filpus has a middle school background, so she’d also like that position with Mr. Luoma retiring,” said Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil. “Having experiences in the other positions just offered more to the knowledge they had in the scope of the district, K-12.”

Filpus became high school principal last year when she replaced retiring principal Kass Simila. Aldrich is in his second year as elementary school principal, having replaced Klingbeil when she became superintendent.

Filpus will continue to serve as high school varsity girls’ basketball coach, Klingbeil said.

Klingbeil said the board planned to hire a new elementary school principal to start on July 1.

“I think we have a good quality pool of applicants, who I’m looking forward to interviewing, and we look forward to working with someone and taking on that challenge at the elementary school,” she said.

Filpus, who taught at the middle school for 17 years before becoming high school principal, said she was excited to return.

“To be quite honest, I always envisioned myself taking the next step in administration to be at the middle school,” she said. “I enjoyed my year as principal at the high school, and will use that to help me in the middle school.”

Filpus said she looks forward to helping students get through the middle school years and providing concepts to aid their success.

“I think it’s important to realize the sixth through eighth grades, there’s a lot of need at that age level specific to them,” she said. “I would like to be able to have common planning for teachers throughout the day at the various grade levels, just recognize the time these students are going through, and be able to address their needs.”

Prior to becoming elementary principal, Aldrich was an English teacher in the district for 11 years. He also spent four years as student affairs coordinator at the middle and high school.

Aldrich said with his previous high school experience, he thought the high school position would be a good fit for him long-term.

“Obviously, I came from there, and I’m certainly looking forward to the different challenges it presents,” he said. “I feel like I know the curriculum pretty well and I know the people, and I’m just excited about getting to be back where I?was for many years.”

Aldrich said he didn’t have specific plans as principal, but will continue the high standards the school has had for years.

“I’ve obviously gained a K-12 perspective, and I think I can bring things to the table from that,” he said.

Aldrich said he has enjoyed his time at the elementary school.

“I certainly have the utmost respect for everyone here at the elementary and I’m going to miss it,” he said. “The teachers, staff and students have been amazing to work with.”