Committee Suggests U.S. Air Force Veteran as Next Haverhill High School Principal

Haverhill High School gymnasium. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A U.S. Air Force veteran with local ties and 28 years of teaching and education leadership experience is likely to become the next principal of Haverhill High School.

Families and staff were notified Thursday that an interview committee narrowed a field of 16 candidates to one, Michael J. Downs, who currently serves as principal of Medford’s Andrews Middle School. His appointment must still be confirmed by the full School Committee. In an email, the school administration quoted from Downs’ presentation during an interview.

“As a parent of two adult children, I know how challenging these four years can be, but I also know that we must all work together to help all students succeed. My educational philosophy is ‘Do what’s best for students.’ As an educational leader, I am responsible for providing all students with a safe and consistent learning environment. You will quickly learn that I care for my students and staff. I pride myself on being visible in the classrooms and hallways and getting to know my students and staff,” Downs said.

During a recent on-air interview at WHAV, Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta noted interviews were taking place for someone to succeed interim Principal Kevin Soraghan.

Downs began his career as a social studies teacher and was named Teacher of the Year at two high schools. He was later appointed chair of the Social Students Department at Methuen High School before becoming associate principal. He has also served as an assistant principal at North Reading High School.

He served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves. During his time in the service, he acted as commissioned and noncommissioned air transportation officer and is a veteran of Desert Storm, Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Downs holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Leadership from Salem State University. He earned a master of Educational Administration degree at Rivier College and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor of science in Social Science Education from Plymouth State College.

The interview committee was comprised of teachers, parents, students, administrators and School Committee members Gail M. Sullivan, Scott W. Wood Jr. and Richard J. Rosa.

A Haverhill team will accompany Downs this week during a site visit at Andrews Middle School. Members will have an opportunity to tour the school and speak with staff, students and members of the Medford Leadership Team.

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