After spending the past five years as principal at Lawrence High School, Thomas Reed has taken the same position at Otsego High School.
Reed replaced Herve Dardis, who retired after a 22-year tenure at OHS.
According to Reed, Otsego was the perfect next step in his career.
“I’m a big believer in small schools,” said Reed, who graduated from Eau Clair High School. “I’ve always attended small schools and worked in small schools. There’s something about the community aspect that shines when teachers have relationships with all the students in a school.
“Otsego is small enough to be personal and large enough to have the resources to do what is best for students. OPS also has a strong vision of where they want to be in the future and is consistently working towards that vision.”
Reed, who received his bachelor’s degree from Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., and his master’s degree from Western Michigan University, began his career in education as a math teacher at Eau Clair Middle School. He transitioned into an administrative role when he became assistant principal and athletic director at Lawrence High School.
His time at Lawrence allowed him to see first-hand the challenges faced by teens in today’s society.
“High school students are under a lot of pressure from technology,” he said. “Mistakes many of us made growing up with minimal consequence can now be recorded and have life-long impacts for students.
“Additionally social media is a 24/7 barrage of both positive and negative pressure on our students. This leads to a lot of anxiety about their current choices and future plans. We try to create a safe space free from distractions here at school, as well as offer the mental health support that students need.”
Choosing education as a career seemed like a natural fit for Reed, who grew up in a family of educators and was able to witness first-hand the impact those in the education field have on their students and the community.
He also had an “amazing experience” with his teachers and coaches in high school, which further influenced his career decision.
“I knew I wanted to be in education as soon as I got to college and realized one of my core values was helping others,” he said. “I don’t know of any other profession that has such a broad impact as education on both individuals and the community.”
Reed, who shares young daughter Anna with his wife Kali, views a high school as an extension of the local community. He believes the success of the high school is tied to the success of the community and vice versa.
“When everyone works together, our students can experience unprecedented success in high school and beyond,” he said.
While Reed is only a few weeks into his tenure at OHS, he likes what he has seen from the school’s staff and students thus far.
“We have a lot of good things happening right now,” he said.
One of his main priorities is helping to ensure all students have a post-graduation plan to help provide them with the best chance of long-term success.
He also wants to increase student engagement at school, increase family engagement at the high school level and work with the OHS staff to ensure a positive experience for all students in the building.
When not at work, Reed enjoys spending time outdoor with his wife and daughter.
“I also have two bird dogs I enjoy spending time with in the grouse woods and I love to read,” he said.