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Posted on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Ypsilanti Community Schools names principal replacement for New Tech High School

By Danielle Arndt

Editor's note: Information from Scott Menzel about the hiring process has been added to this story.

Ypsilanti Community Schools named a replacement principal for the unified Ypsilanti-Willow Run New Tech High School.

It has been less than a week since news broke that Ypsilanti New Tech Principal Cory McElmeel accepted a position as principal of Skyline High School in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. YCS officials announced the selection of McElmeel's replacement in a news release Monday afternoon.

Kelly Mickel has been tapped to serve as the new leader of the expanding New Tech program.

Mickel has been a teacher for nine years, all of which she has spent at Willow Run Community Schools — most recently as the health and wellness facilitator for Willow Run High School. The entire high school in Willow Run operates on a New Tech model, so Mickel has been trained in New Tech education techniques and has completed the New Tech Network's "Train the Trainer" track.

Mickel has a master's degree in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University. She also received her bachelor's degree in health and physical education from EMU.

She has been a softball coach for the Ypsilanti National Little League, a gymnastics instructor at the Michigan Academy of Gymnastics and a creative movement and tumbling teacher for Pittsfield Township's parks and recreation program.

Mickel also coached middle school cheerleading at Willow Run in the fall of 2012 and varsity cheerleading at the high school this past winter.

Mickel previously was rehired as the assistant principal at Ypsilanti Community Middle School, said YCS Superintendent Scott Menzel. Menzel said the New Tech High leadership position was not re-posted. Instead, after McElmeel gave notice, YCS officials took a second look at people who had applied initially for either a principal or assistant principal spot.

They narrowed it down to four individuals who had been trained in New Tech methods and then asked for a recommendation from the New Tech Network representative who works with both Ypsilanti and Willow Run on their programs, Menzel said, and Mickel was identified and agreed upon as the best candidate.

Current Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki, who will be the associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction when the new YCS district launches July 1, said Mickel is the right fit for the New Tech program.

"Kelly brings to Ypsilanti New Tech a wealth of knowledge and depth of experience," Lisiscki said in Monday's media release. "She is the go-to adult for students and she is effective in forging trustworthy alliances. She will hit the ground running with enthusiasm, thoughtful planning and a collaborative spirit."

Mickel said in a statement she is up for the challenge and grateful for the opportunity.

"I am ready to take on the task of growing the New Tech program and working with the staff to explore ways to enhance the educational experience for our students," she said.

McElmeel had been with Ypsilanti Public Schools for 10 years. He was one of six principals from either Ypsilanti or Willow Run to make it through the unified district's interview and selection process and be offered a position in the consolidated district. About 18 people who applied were turned down for a leadership position. The principals were selected in April.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Sabrina C

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

@Bob: while I agree that some of the comments have a negative tone, you must be a part of the mess we are experiencing to know that there is an injustice being done in our schools. I chose to stay in Ypsilanti as well but I can no longer support a system that continues to make bad decisions, lies to the community, partakes in questionable, very questionable, hiring processes and will appoint anyone to a leadership position! MY child is worth more than that. You also can't argue the statistics on lack of academic achievement, pitiful graduation rate, and the increasing crime rate in our town. It just isn't what it used to be and people, like me, are afraid it won't every come back. Our hope was that the schools would turn around but we waited and what they've done since March has all been a disappointment at best!

Randy Marshall

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

If you have witnessed the whole process of what the WISD, Willow Run & Ypsi Schools have done it has been shady at best. They have said one thing and done another, time after time. If Ms. Mickel didn't meet the criteria to be a principal why are we now hiring her to be a principal? Again, we continue to lower the standards for students who need MORE. WISD did it with the hiring of Lisiscki and Martin, over Irvine, and continue to do it with building administration now as well.

Camden Clark

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

@ Bob: That's the same sentiment I hear from folks who stayed and can't get out. Shouldn't you raise the standards for your kids? Have you visited either district lately, and have you met some of the administrators?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

In this case, official administrative experience is not necessarily the recipe for success. Implementing the New Tech model and innovating beyond it takes a special person who is able to adapt, to develop a collaborative culture, and to maintain a commitment to and culture of learning amongst adults and students in the building. Kelly Mickel fits this bill. This choice is a positive move for the new consolidated district, showing commitment to the growth and development of its students, rather than relying on traditional methods of seniority. Cory McElmeel will be missed, but both moves are good for the county.

Bob Doyle

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:31 a.m.

People have been predicting the demise of Ypsilanti since before we moved to town 23 years ago, and the residents of Ypsilanti still manage to enjoy life, raise children, and thrive. With the lack of hope expressed by some individuals here, I can certainly see how these writers may have benefited from finding another community that fit their needs better. Enjoy your new home--mine is just fine. The start-up school district has experienced a number of missed opportunities and unfortunate missteps, but let's face facts, a great number of parents in Ypsilanti have been making the choice to send their children to other alternative sources of education for many years, and the community still stands.

Camden Clark

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

@RyWoods, we live in Normal Park and you are correct! There are so many for sale signs popping up that it makes my head spin! The school district(s) are primarily to blame. None of the parents here want to send their children to YCS next fall. I imagine if they can't sell their homes they will choice to other districts or try the new charter out by Lincoln. Been hearing good things about Milan and Arbor Prep. We have decisions to make.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:50 a.m.

Ypsi doesn't stand a chance. I can't even visit there anymore. Depot Town for the summer car cruise and a bite at Aubree's is about all we do there anymore. Lived there for 20 years and finally had to go. It is sad. Yes, the high school and entire district is in grave condition. Hard to watch and now we are putting less experienced people at the helm. Our kids need tried and true, not new and inexperienced. It is a very difficult place to work and needs the best we can get. I am sad to say that I drove through my old neighborhood of Normal Park this weekend. It seems as though half of the houses are for sale! No hope left. My Ypsi has become a smaller version of Detroit, starting with the schools and the lack of leadership.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

Half the houses are for sale because prices are going back up. The market has been very low and very slow for a couple years.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

I agree, Camden. I heard that Ms. Mickel came out of a health and PE classroom and didn't have the qualifications to be a YCS principal. She was given a "NO". Why are we moving her directly into the New Tech position? Ypsi New Tech has struggled to stay in tact and we need a seasoned leader who can keep it running and improve on it. The traditional high school doesn't show much hope for next year. It already looks like a disaster waiting to explode. If we don't preserve New Tech and get a strong leader who has had some experience, we will have nothing left for our high school students! Why not post and hire outside like they are doing for the high school principal?

Camden Clark

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

With all due respect, Mrs. Mickel was a Health & P.E. teacher. I love how they gave it a flair with "Health and Wellness Facilitator"! And, Mrs. Mickel applied to be a principal but didn't meet the necessary criteria back in April. She then applied to be Athletic Director but did not meet that criteria either. Then she was given the middle school assistant principal position. Now, when desperation sets in we assign her principal of New Tech?? You cannot replace Mr. McElmeel with a green P.E. teacher. I have very close friends at Ypsi New Tech, some that are much more qualified than Mrs. Mickel. It is another poor decision for YCS. I also know some teachers and community members that would disagree with Ms. Lisiscki's description that she can form "trustworthy alliances". Will this leadership get ANYTHING right?

Leo Sheng

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 12:36 a.m.

I'm going into my senior year at YNT. I've been there since it opened. It'll be weird without Mr. M, but I'm glad to hear good things about our new principal. No one can replace Mr. M, but that's the point: to start fresh. So, it's nice to know we're getting someone others look up to!

Lynne Chaimowitz

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

What a great choice! Kelly will be a great leader at New Tech.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

I think the hire of Mrs. Mickel is a great choose someone who been in the community for a good period of time, and from a personal point of view a wonderful person whom cares about people good hire YCS..

Linda French

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

Kelly is an excellent choice.