[NEWS BRIEF] Bellaire meets new principal Michael Niggli


Ariana Castañeda

Newly appointed principal, Michael Niggli, dedicates a few minutes after introducing himself to speak with parents. He reiterates his dedication to “transparency and truth.”

Following the retirement of former principal, Michael McDonough, the newly appointed principal, Michael Niggli, introduced himself in front of fewer than 100 parents and students on the evening of Oct. 28.

With a 22-year teaching experience on his resume, Niggli cited his time as a classroom teacher in Austin High School and Reagan (now known as Heights) High School, an associate principal of Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center High School and more recently as the former principal of Waltrip High School.

Due to his long time serving HISD, Niggli said he chose Bellaire because he admired its many “unique programs,” saying the school has “a certain draw to it.”

Niggli addressed the concerns that rose from the input meeting on Oct. 17 by emphasizing transparency and truth.

Michael Niggli, newly appointed principal, takes on Bellaire HS. Previously Waltrip HS principal, Niggli says he is looking forward to “meeting the students and the staff of Bellaire High School.” (Photo provided by HISD)

“I’m willing to earn [trust] and work for it,” Niggli said. “[I will] try to be as transparent as I can be about the issues that are around us right now.”

Along with transparency, student safety is Niggli’s top priority as the new principal.

“Safety is critical and I’m very serious about safety,” Niggli said. “I have implored my teachers and staff that are on campus at 4:30 to be an extra set of eyes.”

Niggli also discussed core values for an educational plan “that we need to meet as a community” at the meeting. He hopes to lessen educational gaps by building on the pre-existing fine arts and sports programs, providing stronger support for teachers and ensuring all students meet their growth potential.

“We want to help people,” Niggli said. “And that’s going to look a little different for all of our kids.”

With the uncertainty surrounding Niggli’s arrival, parents were relieved to hear that he had a substantial track record.

“I’m glad that his years of experience far exceed [parents’] baseline expectations,” parent attendee Teresa Zhang said. “I imagine a lot of work and a lot of leadership skills are necessary to run a big place like this with all sorts of diverse people.”

Parents were not the only ones worrying about the impending changes a new principal might make. As one of the few students attending, sophomore Sarah Gregory went up to Niggli to ask him about his support for the women’s basketball team.

Fewer than 100 parents and students were in attendance on Friday, Oct. 28. at the new principal ‘Meet and Greet.’ Lining up after the meeting, parents were ready to talk to Niggli to address concerns for Bellaire following McDonough’s retirement. (Ariana Castañeda)

“He said he’ll come and that he’ll need the schedule,” Gregory said. “I just wanted to see if he’s going to be a good principal or if it’s going to be a little struggle, but he seems pretty cool.”

As the community reaches out to him, Niggli sympathizes with the people of Bellaire and anticipates more Cardinal contact. He describes preceding principal Michael McDonough as a “fantastic guy” and understands that the “community has been through a lot.”

“I think Bellaire trusts Bellaire, which I totally understand, and I’m okay with that since I’m new,” Niggli said. “There’s a lot of listening and learning right now, so that’s one of my priorities going forward.”