New principal takes the reins at Aurora High School

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Mike Hayes took the reins as principal of Aurora High School at the beginning of the school year.

AURORA – New high school principal Mike Hayes says “education has always been part of who I am.”

Hayes, who had been the assistant principal at Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati since 2017, took over in Aurora at the start of this school year. He replaced Dr. Paul Milcetich, who became the district’s new assistant superintendent of curriculum & instruction. He currently lives in Aurora.

“Working to make people feel recognized, valued and supported is what I’ve always loved to do,” Hayes said. “Moreover, I personally love learning and enjoy being part of the process to help others discover, think critically and feel empowered.”

Hayes is not the only member of his family to go into education. He said that his aunt was a second grade teacher with the Olmstead Falls schools for more than 30 years; she retired about 15 years ago.

"She has always been someone I’ve admired showcasing the profound impact an educator can have," Hayes said.

Hayes began his career as an integrated language arts teacher from 2009-14 at Moeller High School in the Cincinnati area. He said he mostly taught American Literature to high school students.

"I loved creating conditions for students to think critically while refining their close-reading and analytical writing skills," Hayes said. "The opportunity to watch students grow and help them realize their potential is incredibly rewarding. Essentially, education is an ideal forum to foster positive relationships, and I love being part of such work."

Later, Hayes would go on to become assistant principal at two other high schools. He said working as a top administrator gave him the opportunity to help create a positive atmosphere for students, teachers and staff.

"I sincerely value the learning experience and want to do all I can to support all learners and optimize their educational experience," Hayes said.

Mike Hayes is the new principal at Aurora High School. The mural behind Hayes is one he pointed out as a reflection of the school's roots.

This school year, of course, poses unique challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our leadership team is working to navigate the waters of Covid-19 while trying to give students exceptional educational services,” Hayes said. “My goal as a newcomer is to forge positive relationships with students, staff and stakeholders while working to continue the tradition of Aurora’s excellence within academics, the arts and athletics.”

Hayes said he and his leadership team strive “to nurture a deep sense of purpose and passion in our students, staff and community.”

“We will be actively working to embed our future-ready competencies as part of our strategic vision within the fabric of our school culture,” Hayes said. “The focus is to build a school-community where empathy, collaboration, resiliency, balance, critical thinking and innovation are well-nurtured roots leading to continuous growth for all learners.”

As principal, Hayes said that he and the district's leadership team are "actively working to embed our future-ready competencies as part of our strategic vision within the fabric of our school culture."   

"By grounding our work within our competencies, Aurora will not only continue to sustain high-levels of academic achievement, but our learners will be prepared to find success in an ever-evolving world," Hayes said.

Those looking to get into education need to "actively work to forge positive relationships and nourish the roots of all learners," Hayes said. 

"Education is about putting kids first," Hayes said. "Of course, the expectation is that educators have a firm command of their particular content area, but the best educators are life-long learners who work to make genuine connections with their students, colleagues and communities. These connections will make people feel recognized, valued and supported which will allow them to grow beyond measure."

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com