Munster High School principal to retire from public education | Education

MUNSTER — After nine years as principal at Munster High School, Mike Wells is retiring from K-12 education.

Wells will be taking a new position in the private sector of education as midwest regional director for Cognia. 

This was Wells’ nineteenth year at MHS, where he has served as an athletic coach, sponsor, teacher and assistant principal. 

Wells is excited for his new position at Cognia, where he will be able to work with other school districts about continuous improvement. Wells will oversee Iowa and Illinois schools. 

He said that it was a difficult decision because the teachers and staff at MHS are amazing but that he felt like it was time to make a change, and this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

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However, Wells said he is going to miss a lot about MHS. He said that there have been so many accomplishments in the time he has been there and that he loves seeing the students be successful. 

He said in his career at MHS, he has gotten to be part of amazing opportunities, including bringing students to Everglades National Park in Florida and Washington D.C. He also said under his tenure, MHS became the 13th high school in the nation to be STEM certified. 

The school also established its fabrication lab and business incubator this academic year. He said the school has come a long way.

Wells also said none of his success as principal would be possible without help from his family, namely his wife, Jill, and children, Angie and Faith. He said he felt he had to make some sacrifices in his personal life to work as a building administrator, and his family was always understanding. 

Thomas Barnes, an English teacher at MHS, said that when he completed his masters degree, he shadowed Wells as assistant principal. He said that seeing how Wells handled difficult situations sharpened his skills as a teacher and leader.  

Leroy Marsh, a health and physical education teacher at MHS, said Wells had always focused his efforts on making MHS the best high school to attend and work at. 

“For Mike (Wells), Munster High School is more than a place of work, it has been like a second home for him for many years. Students and staff are like family. We will miss his leadership skills, his sense of humor and his dedication the most,” he said in an email. 

Marsh said he will miss his friendship with Wells, as he was one of the warmest administrators he had worked for in his career.

Jennifer Dettlo, a Spanish teacher at MHS, said she knew Wells from when he was only a science teacher at MHS. He had the classroom next to hers. She said they started a prank war and were very competitive. 

She said she will miss his sense of humor and the way he was always available to talk if there was a problem. 

The search process for a new MHS principal is underway. An online survey was sent to stakeholders, including MHS teachers, staff, School Town of Munster students in grades 8-12, district families and Munster residents. The responses will be used to collect thoughts about qualifications and qualities stakeholders believe are important for the next principal. 

District-level administrators will conduct initial screening interviews to identify qualified candidates for the selection committee to interview. The selection committee will consist of select parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members. 

The committee will conduct in-person interviews and select finalists for the position. The incoming superintendent, Bret Heller, will conduct the final interviews and select the next leader of MHS. Administration hopes to announce the name of the new principal by late-April or early-May.