Mike Niehoff: a different leader for a different school

0 Comment Wayne.Steffen
March 5, 2014

The Minarets High School principal was looking for an innovative, relevant education. He found it at FPU.

Pop quiz!

A high school student stops the principal in the hallway and says, “I need a transcript of my grades for a college application—today. The staff person who handles these requests is out sick.”

 How does the principal respond:

A.     “Why did you wait until the last day?”

B.     “I really wish I could help, but I don’t know where those files are kept.”

C.     “OK, let me go get that for you.”

If you didn’t choose C, you don’t know Mike Niehoff (TC ’92), principal at Minarets High School.

A different kind of principal Niehoff strives to be a different kind of principal. For one thing, his office is not the student interrogation room. “Ninety eight percent of the time students are in my office, they are not in trouble,” he says.

Getting to know students is Niehoff’s goal. Being out in the hallways, speaking to classes and learning about students helps to stop trouble before it starts and build a more informal atmosphere. “We dispense with some of that bureaucracy and hierarchy,” he says.

A different kind of school Minarets is also different. Walls are decorated with student-produced art in the style of Jackson Pollack and Vincent Van Gogh. There’s a green alien painted around a doorway and an outside rock climbing wall.

An eight-period day allows for electives ranging from yoga and horticulture to arts and music to sports media. In addition to the traditional instrumental and choral ensembles, MHS has a rock band and a music production class. “We’ve tried to build a school around the students,” Niehoff says.

The FPU difference Just as Minarets was looking for a principal who values innovation, real-world relevance and the personal touch, Niehoff was looking for an education centered on those same values when he chose to become an educator.

The teaching intern program, where candidates could lead classes during the day while taking them at night, attracted Niehoff to FPU. High-quality instruction and the personal attention made him a lifelong fan. “Fresno Pacific convinced me I could do this,” he says.

More about Mike and FPU at  fpu.edu/empowers

 

About the author

Wayne Steffen is university editor at Fresno Pacific University, where he edits Pacific magazine. Before joining FPU in 1996, he was a writer and editor at several community newspapers and a college in the Midwest.

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