Importance of Mental Health


Why support for students and a strong school culture are key to this middle school principal

Lori Higgins | April 18, 2024, 7:00am MDT

As a high school wrestler many years ago, Jon Wilcox was expected to help coach much younger students who were learning to wrestle. It was a role he embraced and one that helped cement his decision to go into teaching.

“Week after week, I’d have the same group that I worked with, so I think that consistency in getting to know them and then going to tournaments, and coaching them from the corner — that was definitely pretty powerful,” he said.

Wilcox, who was recently named Michigan 2024 Principal of the Year, is influencing students in different ways these days. For nine years he’s been the principal of Petoskey Middle School, a school of about 570 students, 42% of whom come from low-income homes.

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