Michael Doran began his second year as principal of Wootton High School.
What is the biggest difference you foresee between this year and last year?
“We have the largest incoming freshman class ever [625 students].
“The learning curve [in my first year at Wootton] was as great as I expected; however, I enjoyed it more than I expected.
“I do feel more prepared, and that senior class was incredible.
“It gave me some validation. … The school didn’t collapse under my leadership, and we can do some good things.”
What is a challenge that Wootton faces as a school?
“One of the biggest challenges always is how to make a large school feel comfortable for kids, and not feel overwhelming. … Kids need to feel comfortable in order to do well academically. … With 2,400 kids, that doesn’t just happen, you have to plan for it.”
Wootton has a homeroom program that will match small groups of students with the same teacher and will meet daily for four years.
“We’re held to such incredibly ridiculous standards. We’re always getting beaten up, beaten up by politicians. … I’m not scared of [accountability], but it has to be realistic.
“Education is always getting a bad rap, and I get angry when I hear that, because all I see is 95-percent success. … For these people I say, spend a day in a really good high school, or middle school, or elementary school. You would not be able to say that when you leave.”
Is there something you wish parents would do more?
“They really are a supportive community, so I want to see that continue. … They’ve been very supportive of me in my first year, the good welcomes, the understanding that I’m new. Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better community.
“What I’d like to see them do more, if anything, is maybe trust the school more [and not assume] when the student gets a low grade that it’s the school’s fault. … When they support the kid over the school, it sets off a bad dynamic. That could probably be said of any community.”
Is there something you wish parents would do less?
“Maybe less pressure on their kids, in terms of what the kids are planning, about one bad grade, or what college they’re going to. [Expectations] might be too high, too unrealistic, or just different from the kid’s.”
What is your favorite thing about Wootton?
“The openness of the students, and the way that they really seem to enjoy being in this school, and enjoy being with each other. It impresses me. … They’re allowing us to do our job, because they’re doing their job, and that’s really cool. … I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I don’t laugh, about what they say, what they do.”
— Interview by Alex Scofield