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Dowagiac welcomes two new principals

Published 8:00am Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Students at Dowagiac Union High School and Justus Gage Elementary have some new faces awaiting them when they return from summer vacation.

The Dowagiac Board of Education approved the hire of two new administrators during its first meeting of the summer Monday: Bryan Henry as principal of Justus Gage and Mike Churchill as assistant principal at Union High School. Deputy Superintendent Dawn Connor introduced the two to the board and the public before the board ratified the hires.

Henry will fill the vacant principal position at the elementary school, which was left after Marcy Hendress resigned from the job in April due to family concerns. Former McKinley Elementary Kay Tularak has served as interim principal while the district’s hiring committee searched for a permanent replacement.

Henry is no stranger to Dowagiac Union Schools. The educator graduated from the high school in 1992, returning to teach at the district in 1999 after receiving his education degree from Western Michigan University. He studied physical and elementary education.

Henry spent a combined 14 years teaching fifth grade to Dowagiac students, nine years with Patrick Hamilton and five years at Justus Gage. This previous school year, the educator taught physical education at the middle school and high school.

The new administrator has also been heavily involved with the district athletic programs, coaching the varsity and junior varsity baseball team as well as the junior varsity basketball team. He has also served as a co-chair for school improvement projects.

“He’s very proud of our school and our school district, and I think he’s going to make a really good team member,” Connor said.

The other new administrator, Churchill, will take over as assistant principal at the high school for Kelly Millin as Millin moves into the principal’s office this upcoming year, replacing Pieter Hoekstra.

A graduate of Coloma High School, Churchill has spent the last seven years teaching physical education and English at Coloma Junior High. Like Henry, Churchill received his degree from Western, majoring in physical education and minoring in English.

“He has also farmed since he was a young lad, so he’s a very hard worker,” Connor said.

He is involved with school athletics, coaching football, basketball, track and field, and strength and conditioning.

“We’re very pleased to have him as part of the team, and I know he’s very excited to get started,” Connor said.

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