By Jef Rietsma
Vicksburg’s School Supt. Keevin O’Nell announced Allison Dygert’s appointment as the new principal at the Middle School at a mid-February meeting.
Dygert, 41, took over the post from Matt Vandussen, who left at winter break to pursue other opportunities. Though filling such a high-profile position in the middle of the school year has challenges of its own, the circumstances ended up working in the district’s favor.
Dygert, a 20-year Vicksburg resident, said the district played a crucial role in the early years of her professional career.
She did her student teaching under current Sunset Lake principal Amie McCaw in 2005 and was subsequently hired by Vicksburg. Dygert would go on to serve as a teacher at Indian Lake and Tobey elementaries, later as an academic coach, instructional consultant and other leadership positions during her 11-year tenure as a Bulldog, O’Neill said.
Dygert most recently served six years as principal at Riverside Elementary in Constantine.
O’Neill said the district assembled a nine-member committee charged with securing and interviewing candidates, and ultimately recommending its preferred choice.
He said the panel included representation from administration and teaching staff. Five candidates were interviewed.
“We had a very strong field and in the end, we selected Allison as our choice,” he said. “We are very excited, excited for (her) leadership and looking forward to great things.”
O’Neill said Dygert would be starting her job in late February.
Afterward, Dygert elaborated on the opportunity to return to the place where she earned her start in the world of education.
“My dad actually opened Vicksburg Auto Body almost 50 years ago and my brother owns it now, so we’ve had roots in Vicksburg for well over 40 years,” she said.
Dygert said she struggled and lost a few nights of sleep over whether to give up her post in Constantine. But, she noted, opportunities of this nature don’t present themselves often. With a heavy heart, she said she trusted her intuition and accepted Vicksburg’s offer.
“I love my current staff in Constantine and they all understand why I would want to move and have that opportunity to be back here to serve the community that offered me so much and really jump-started my career,” she said. “I have nine or 10 years left and I hope to just retire here.”
Dygert said the transition has been going well and she remains optimistic that she made the right decision.
The mother of a sophomore and seventh-grader who both attend VCS, Dygert said she has come full circle in returning to Vicksburg. She explained some of this year’s eighth-grade students were kindergarten students of hers at Tobey Elementary.
Dygert is on staff as an 11-month employee. The position’s salary is $94,000 a year.
The school ranked among the best public middle schools of 2022 by U.S. News & World Report. The ranking is based on state-required tests, graduation, and how well students are prepared for high school. The school ranked 150th among Michigan’s middle schools, placing it among the top 30%.
By Jef Rietsma