Q&A with Principal Niggli

Principal Michael Niggli answers questions about the future of Bellaire


Claire Bradford

Michael Niggli walks the halls when he can get time away from meetings. Interacting with students is his favorite part of being Bellaire’s principal.

It has been almost three months since Principal Michael Niggli joined the Bellaire community. We asked Niggli 13 questions – over topics like Cardinal Hour, dress code and goals for the semester.

Principal Niggli will be hosting chats in the auditorium on Tuesday, Jan. 24 and Wednesday, Jan. 25 during the White Block of Cardinal Hour to give students the opportunity to get to know their principal. Sign up using this link to attend.

How has your role as principal been going so far?

The first thing that comes to mind is that the staff, teachers and students have all been very welcoming. They’ve been very open to communication, and it’s been a really good feeling being at Bellaire so far. I’m looking forward to the future. The transition with the construction and having to change some of the protocols as new parts of the building open and some places close has been a work in progress. I’d say that’s been a challenge. It’s been a pleasure to work with the staff and security to try and make the school a safer place, making sure that all the kids are getting what they need, academically, emotionally… Just making sure we take care of everybody.

What changes have you made since you became principal?

The ID badges were here, but they weren’t really enforced in terms of making sure that everybody has them. We want to make sure that the campus is a safe place, and we want to make sure we know who is on our campus at all times. The teachers and staff have been wonderful about helping and being on board with ideas and making sure that the campus is safe.

We also want to continue with all the tutorial opportunities that are at Cardinal Hour. I really want to encourage the students to take advantage of Cardinal Hour because it’s there, right? I’m hoping that more students take advantage of that.

Are there any changes you plan to make next year?

Nothing right now, other than looking at managing what is afforded from the district to make the school run and making sure everybody has jobs that are aligned to supporting students as best as they can. Small, small tweaks. Nothing really big.

Do you think that you’re going to be removing Cardinal Hour from our schedule next year?

I would like to turn the question around. ‘Do you think you’re going to continue with Cardinal Hour?’ Right now, there are no plans to do anything with it except, “Let’s get kids to tutorials”, “Let’s get kids to clubs” and “Let’s make it a more efficiently used time.” That’s what we would like. If we have, for example, 3000 students here at Bellaire and 1000 of them are using Cardinal Hour for what it’s for, that leaves us with 2000 other kids. We want them to also get the academic health that they need. I think if every student were maximizing Cardinal Hour, we wouldn’t have any kids failing classes. They would be getting the help that they need from their teachers. We want them to know that that time is there for them. To answer your question, we have not discussed getting rid of Cardinal Hour.

Discuss the dress code.

I haven’t thought very hard about that at all. We are just asking everyone to make sure that they’re adhering to the school dress code because we do have one. One of the things that we’ve seen from some of the girls is the midriff, and that’s the big number one dress code violation that we have. If everyone can be a part of that dress code and jump in and support it, then that would be what we’re looking for in order to continue to have things go the way that they’ve been going.

Is there any discussion of there being a block schedule next year?

There isn’t. I’m going to not only continue to get some student feedback but also talk to our staff and our shared decision making committee to get some thoughts from them too.

What area of Bellaire do you think needs the most support right now?

I don’t really look at it like the “most” support because I’m trying to leverage my resources to support everything that we can. I have a team of assistant principals, and they each have a different department to be over. We have our social and emotional learning team, our social worker and our counselors to also help support students in different kinds of needs. I try to offer as much as I can to all these different groups. I know athletics have had a tough time with the transition [to the new building]. I would love to see the field get done so that they can have the proper facilities that they need.

Do you have an idea of when the field will be finished?

That’s been a challenge because I don’t have any control over that. It’s a construction thing. They’ve had to redo some of the turf, and that has delayed the process. They’re telling me that we’re probably going to have the track and field around April.

What are your immediate goals for the school?

School safety is one of them. The other one is about the building and having it done. There’s little pieces here and there — like electrical outlets and WiFi — that are still works in progress. The goal would be to have those in place by the end of the semester so that we’re all done when we go into the summertime.

How are you addressing the safety in the parking garage?

So a couple of things there. I’ve talked to the district about bringing on some more maintenance workers to help us with that. As the school opened more, we didn’t have enough people to cover those new areas. With regard to the activities going on over there, we do have another person on campus — a safety technology manager — who helps with the IDs in the garage and is getting the garage gates ready to go for Jan. 28 when parking passes are going to start working. We also have him and Mr. Lloyd making random patrols in the garage with our golf cart for security. The cameras are all functioning in the garage, so that has helped us to identify a lot of problems and speak with some students that we’ve had to talk to as well.

How has the role of principal been in terms of working with, communicating with, and supporting students?

It’s been good. My most favorite part of [my] job is shaking the hands of the students when they graduate. The other part is being out when I get time away from meetings to walk around the campus, talk to kids and see how they’re doing.

After having been at Bellaire for nearly three months now, what is your favorite part about Bellaire?

I love coming to work here every day. I get a good feeling of helping the school in any way that I can. That’s what I look forward to every day. Some days it might be with student issues and other days it may be with a particular academic department— whatever I can do each day to help bolster, support and strengthen the community. That’s what I look forward to when I come here.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m almost three months in, and I’m still thrilled to be here. I’m looking forward to next school year as well. I can’t wait for graduation to come around on Sunday, June 4. I’m looking forward to doing anything that we can do to help us continue to support the kids.