Welcome Back Carter: Huron alumnus becomes principal


Ridhima L. Kodali

Carter, who once was a River Rat himself, is excited to be back at Huron once more. He has many plans and goals in store for Huron.

Ridhima L. Kodali, Managing Editor

“I’m a leader first, principal second,” Huron’s new Principal Ché Carter said. 

These words soared through the zoom screen.

“That means, I give myself the green light to take risks,” Carter said. “Like an entrepreneur and try things that don’t work, you go ‘oh, that didn’t work, what are we going to try next?’ Being a leader is about meeting the needs of your people. Being a leader, sometimes you’re in the back. Sometimes you’re next to someone who is being a leader, doesn’t mean you’re at the top, and you make all the decisions. It really means you’re in servitude, you’re serving others. And so, the art of leadership gives you the tools to be able to do that in a way that will promote growth and development.”

And anyone who walked up to Clague saw him. There was one blue door open, one person by it. 

And that was Mr. Carter.

  He would greet every single person that came through that door. 

“I was actually scanning every single one of you as you came in,” Carter said. “I would look in your eyes to see if there was something going on. That was my perfect opportunity to get you started on the right. In the song “Turn up Monday,” it’s used to get your day started in the right direction.”

“Turn up Monday” is Carter’s song, which he created during the pandemic to help motivate students. 

At Clague, Carter made sure he knew every student, even more than the teachers. 

“When I left Pattengill, Clague was a perfect opportunity, ‘’ Carter said. “Now, Huron is the perfect opportunity for me. This is the end of the chapter at Clague and I’m coming full circle right here. So in baseball terms, I’m swinging for the fence.”


In the beginning 

When he first started at AAPS, Carter saw the impact he made on kids while being a childcare assistant. 

“Knowing that there’s limitless potential in a room full of young people,” Carter said. There’s a lot of things you can do to change the world and when you’re working with young people, each day you will impact the future.”

One of Carter’s goals was to teach fifth graders. The day he finished his degree, from Eastern Michigan University, he was getting job offers from Florida all the way to Michigan. 

  “I really wanted to come back and serve Ann Arbor,” Carter said. “I’m from the community and I just had so many great experiences that helped to mold me into who I am today. I was exposed to diverse groups of people and situations. We had positive relationships, although we came from all these different places and experiences. As an educator I believe these experiences are an opportunity to help us all move forward in the world.”

First years of teaching

Teaching first grade, at Bryant Elementary. He had the opportunity to keep kids two years in a row, because of looping, a process where you move the same group of children, one grade above with the same teacher. 

He taught there for about four years. Then, he was interviewed at Huron High School to be the athletic director/assistant principal but he didn’t get the position. After interviews with Angel and Abbott elementary, he eventually found himself as the assistant principal at Forsythe Middle School, thereafter Pattengill Elementary and soon following he became Clague’s principal. 

“It’s always a big jump when you go from the classroom to leadership,” Carter said. “Everyone has this belief that you have to go through a linear sequence and follow a predictable pattern to reach your goals. I’ve always been a believer that there are multiple pathways to any pursuit. You cannot convince me that there’s only one way to do things and in my opinion that is  where we get stuck in education and miss the opportunity for real growth and development. 

He would always look at the diverse community of learners to gather different perspectives to get a pulse on the needs of those he serves. As a teacher  Carter took pride in leading a student-centered classroom. For that reason it seemed to him that his colleagues looked down on his approach.

“I didn’t see my position had to be this role where there was this hierarchy of I’m here and you’re there,” Carter said. He wanted to teach and lead in a different way. 

“Perhaps educators were concerned that I was removing myself from the kids while  developing into a leader or principal,” Carter said. “I’m gonna keep saying principal right now but then I’m going to transition into calling it a leader.  You can choose to be a principal or a leader. To be a great principal follow the national standards and guidelines.  Following those guidelines will show you exactly what you need to do to be considered a high-quality principal. Again, I thought it can be done in a way that was more relational.

Back to being a Rat

On July 2, Carter was announced the next principal of Huron High School.

“When I got the offer I felt really humble, very emotional because this is the culminating journey that I set on many, many years ago,” Carter said.

He had to pull over and stop driving when he heard the news. Being offered this position was a huge deal to him, especially since he was a Huron alumnus.

“We have an amazing community support system,” Carter said. “The reception I got was just overwhelmingly positive, but I’m so excited because that means everyone’s mind is open and ready for the possibility. I won’t disappoint, but I’m also not trying to live up to other people’s expectations, I will adjust and tweak my goals as I see they need to be tweaked and adjusted.” 

Carter had already served two-thirds of the population at Huron when they were at Clague.

“A lot of my goals and vision have to do with me being on the outside looking in,” he said with excitement in his voice. “Now that I’m on the inside, I have to recalibrate everything we just talked about, I have to be willing to recalibrate that and not be locked into that based on the needs of the building there. And that’s what being a leader is about.”

Into the future

“We’ve never experienced what you just experienced,” Carter said. “Together we experienced the pandemic — the kids, the teachers, the staff, the educational leaders, the policymakers. We’ve never been here before. So right now I feel like this precipice of change has to do with the decisions we make right now will impact education for the next 20 to 50 maybe even 100 years, because it’s a system, it’s really hard to change things and modify them but think about what’s just happened in the last year the changes that have happened. So no one has a blueprint of what we should look like on the other side of this pandemic or possible pre-new pandemic or even re-envision leadership.”

He continued.

“I’m going to try everything in my power to make this the best experience for staff, students and families that you’ve ever had,” Carter said. “Of course there’s gonna be some people that try to stop that. But I don’t fail, and I don’t miss when I focus when I lock-in, and I get the right people around me, and I do have the right people around me, amazing things will happen.”