Pioneer principal is called for active duty this month

From AAPSNews Service

Now in his third year as principal at Pioneer High School, Michael White says he loves his job, enjoys coming to work each day and has relished the time spent in building a solid administrative team and a safe, orderly school.

White will soon have to lean heavily on that team team as he answers the call of the U.S. Army, for which he has an equal love. His team will take the reins as he moves to active duty status for the next one to two years.

White is scheduled to be deployed on Jan. 29 to Fort Benning, Ga. taking a leave from his Ann Arbor job, where the U.S. Army Reserve senior drill sergeant will commence full-time training of Army recruits. White said he has been called up to active duty from 12 to 18 months, though he said it could possibly be extended up to 24 months. White could serve his time at Fort Benning or possibly be deployed overseas to the active military theaters of Iraq or Afghanistan to train troops on the ground.

“I’m a patriot and I’m extremely proud to serve this country again,” White said. “I’m proud, at 49, to be able to go and train our troops. For me, (serving) it’s important. It’s one of the most patriotic things you can do.”

This is not White’s first active duty in the U.S. Army. From 1982-86, after graduating from Michigan State University, he served as a member of a U.S. Army special operations group operating in places such as Nicaragua and Honduras. He loved the military life, but marriage and family obligations prompted him to give it up and begin a career as a teacher. He and his wife, Karen, began their family, raising three sons.

Things changed again in 2003, when White visited a U.S. Army Recruiting Center with his high school-aged sons to determine whether their interest would veer toward college or the military. There, he was told that the Army – which traditionally had not signed anyone over the age of 39 – was taking recruits over the age of 40.

He was again bitten with the military bug.

He signed up again in 2004 as an active drill sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve. White does his weekend training in Livonia, where he lives with his family. Their three sons who are all now in college – two at Michigan State University and one at the University of Michigan. White has gone to Fort Benning each summer to satisfy his annual reserve training requirement.

While White is away serving his active duty, Pioneer’s Senior Class Assistant Principal Tamber Woodworth, a former principal at Ann Arbor’s Haisley Elementary School, will take on White’s duties as principal. Tyrone Weeks, a teacher who has coordinated the Rising Scholars program at Pioneer, will move into the assistant principal’s role, White said.

Letters explaining White’s situation and the changes at the school have been sent home by both White and Superintendent Todd Roberts, he added.

“The administrative team is strong,” he said. “Everybody’s on the same page. These guys are on the ball. They meet daily about the operations of the building and they already do a great job on events around the school.”

Before coming to Pioneer as principal in 2007, White taught in Washington state and in Jackson, Mich. before taking administrative roles in Dearborn Heights and South Redford school districts in southeast Michigan. He continued to enjoy his education role when moving to Pioneer and has maintained his love of the military serving in the reserves.

“I don’t think everybody can say they have two jobs that they love. I love both,” he said. “I’m an educator in both. I enjoy going to work every day.”

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