Michael Vigue had to dive headlong into his first posting as principal. One day, he was assistant principal at Pinellas Park High. The next, he was Boca Ciega High School's new principal. St. Petersburg Times correspondent Sylvia Lim spoke to Vigue, who has been an educator for more than 15 years, as he started his new job last week.
Why did you want the job?
It was a great opportunity. Boca Ciega High has a very diverse group of kids, and I am used to diverse groups of kids at my last school. It also has a great staff and great kids.
Have you worked in schools struggling academically?
In lots of ways, both schools I was at in New Hampshire … were struggling. They were a mess in terms of what students are doing, and there was a lack of consistency in the curriculum. I put in two years in each school. … While I was at Pinellas Park, I worked with seniors to help them get on track to graduate. We raised the graduation rate from 59 percent to (a projected) 89 percent last year.
What are some of the challenges you face at Boca Ciega High?
There is a quick learning curve: getting to know everyone is Part One. Another challenge is we need the community to realize this is a safe school. We need to get that image out there, too, that we are going to do whatever we can to make sure school is safe.
What do you think about the discussion of turning Boca Ciega into a fundamental school?
I always like the opportunity to offer as many programs as possible. I'm part of a district committee looking at student assignment plans, and in the last six weeks, one of the things we're looking at is a "school within a school" for (Boca Ciega High) so it would allow parents who live in our area who want their students in fundamental school that choice. It makes the proximity a lot better. I don't believe in looking at the whole school being fundamental just yet.