Bringing Her Own Style


Aniya Sparrow

Dr. Suzanne Leake serves as interim head principal for the 2022-2023 school year. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to stay” Dr. Leake said.

 After the wave of grief students succumbed to upon hearing Dr. Arnel had retired as principal of FHC, they were informed of the identity of the school’s new leader, Dr. Suzanne Leake, on March 18. As the students and faculty begin the 2022-2023 school year they must not only transition into a new year with new classes, but a new leader. 

Dr. Leake was no stranger to some students. Before becoming FHC’s head principal she was a PE and health teacher for eight years and a principal for 16 years. In those 24 years, she was principal at Bryan Middle School for six years where some students attended. 

“I was ecstatic. I was really excited, but I felt like I had to temper that a little bit because I didn’t want the people at Bryan to feel like [I’m] trying to leave [them] because that was not the case. I knew it was going to bring challenges,” Dr. Leake said. “It’s been good so I was super excited, but I didn’t want people to feel like I wanted to leave them. But you know, the kids at Bryan who come to Howell Central, we celebrated.”

Even with all the excitement Dr. Leake was feeling, she was still worried.

“I think it’s just the big shoes to fill. Dr. Arnel is a loved person. He [brought] a lot of energy. And while he and I share the same mission and vision for the school, we have very different styles,” Dr. Leake said. 

When Dr. Leake had heard students input on what they wanted in a principal, she was nervous. However, as the first spirit days came into play, Dr. Leake wanted to make sure students knew she was dedicated to them. 

“One of the things within the student input over and over was [that] Dr. Arnel will dress up in spirit days. Dr. Arnel, you know, has a lot of fun with the student body. So it’s out of my comfort zone but it’s not something I’m not willing to do.” Dr. Leake said. “And if that is important to students, then it has to be important to me, because it’s not about me. You know, it’s those things we do for kids.”

When Dr. Leake had heard the news of Dr. Arnel’s retirement, she wanted to make sure FHC was in good hands. 

“I just really take a lot of pride in this community and I believe that the person who has the opportunity to sit in this seat has to have a strong desire to want to sustain all those things that have already been built up. Because just like anything else, things can be torn down really quick.” Dr. Leake said. “We also live in this community. So it’s important to me that the high school of the community that we live in is a strong family welcoming, all inclusive place.” 

With the adjustment to a  new year and new principal, Mrs. Kelly DuBois stood in the middle of it all. After being administrative assistant for Dr. Arnel for five years, she is now in the same role for Dr. Leake. 

“I feel like it was a smooth transition. It is different. They have different work styles and personalities, but I think it went smoothly. We are still trying to learn how to work together, but I think it’s going very well. It’s been a positive change.” Mrs. DuBois said. 

Staff, and students, have been in the face of this new beginning. Trevor Wolfe is a guidance counselor at FHC and has been working there for 23 years. As the school year began, Mr. Wolfe felt Dr. Leake was a good fit for FHC. 

“Working with Dr. Leake has been awesome. She does a great job of seeing the big picture of our school needs.” Mr. Wolfe said. 

As Dr. Leake settles into FHC, she recognizes and cherishes the community it has. 

“You come first here and it’s not about me and it’s not about you individually, it’s about us. And if we don’t learn this curriculum today, it’s okay. If you’re taken care of, then we can do this tomorrow…So, that’s what I love about here.”