Members of the Southwest High School community welcomed the school’s new principal, Michael Favor, to the school during a celebration on June 20.
Over 100 Southwest teachers, parents and community members, including four Minneapolis Board of Education members, celebrated the arrival of Favor, an educator with over 25 years of experience as a school and school district leader. They also paid tribute to the outgoing principal, Karen Wells, who served on an interim basis for the past year.
The event came nearly a year after Wells took over for longtime principal Bill Smith, who left the school late last summer. School and community leaders in attendance praised Southwest and the school community and expressed confidence about the school having continued success.
The Southwest Foundation, leadership council and PTSO hosted the event, along with Ward 13 City Council Member Linea Palmisano, Southwest Community Education and the Fulton and Linden Hills neighborhood associations.
Favor comes to Southwest after spending the past year as the interim superintendent of the Monticello School District. He has also served as the executive director of schools and student services in Robbinsdale Area Schools, the principal at Robbinsdale Cooper High School and the principal at North High School, among other positions.
Wells said in her remarks at the event that Favor, who has a doctorate in education, is strong, intelligent, open minded and “embodies the power of teamwork.”
“Dr. Favor exemplifies what it means to be a member of Southwest,” she said.
Favor said at the event that he’s excited to build on the excellence that’s already in place at Southwest, adding that he has a lot to learn about the Southwest community. He said he plans on being “value added” and that he’s “unapologetic about being about the students and learning.”
MPS Associate Superintendent Carla Steinbach said Favor will have some expectations, systems and structures that may be different than those in the Southwest community are used to. But she said Favor is a team guy and that he will collaborate, adding that he uses “we” a lot.
She added that Favor needs the help of those in the community to be successful.
Praise for Wells
In his remarks, Favor also praised Wells for leaning in on some “difficult conversations” and setting up the system to move forward with success.
Parent-teacher student organization co-chair Julie Flaskamp praised Wells for her dedication to the students at Southwest, noting the long hours she put in this year.
“She was completely devoted to every kid here,” Flaskamp said.
Adam Barrett, chair of the Southwest Foundation and a Southwest alumnus, praised Wells for putting the students first. He said the event was a first step in continuing the conversation and partnership between Southwest and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Barrett said his idea is to build a model of collaboration between the school and neighborhoods that can be replicated across the district. He noted, for example, how Rose Street Patisserie in Linden Hills is hosting a Southwest student as an intern.
“At the end of the day, it’s about truly building relationships and partnerships,” Barrett said.
Barrett said that Favor will be a valuable asset for Southwest and the neighborhood, noting that he’s a good listener. He said Favor shows respect for people and that they in turn respect him.
“I’m very, very excited about what Favor’s going to do,” Barrett said.