Ex-vice principal prepares for first semester as principal at Point Loma High in time of change and challenge
A lot of things will look different when students at Point Loma High School begin their fall semester at the end of this month.
In addition to a campus modernization and online learning due to the coronavirus, there will be a new principal: Kelly Lowry.
Lowry, Point Loma High School’s vice principal the past five years, assumed the principal’s position last month after a lengthy, all-virtual interview process.
He succeeds Hans Becker, who announced in May that he would become principal of Rancho Bernardo High School.
Lowry brings years of experience to the job. Originally from the Inland Empire, he completed his undergraduate education at UCLA before making his way to San Diego. Lowry earned a master’s degree in special education from National University, in addition to serving 10 years in the Army Reserve and National Guard.
The veteran educator’s career has taken him from Mission Bay High School (where he taught special education and coached football) to being a special-education resource teacher for the San Diego Unified School District and finally to Point Loma High, where he served as vice principal following the death of Vice Principal Kevin Gormley in 2016.
San Diego Unified school board member Mike McQuary said he thinks Lowry’s history with Point Loma High will be beneficial.
“He’s been there for five years. He knows the freshman through senior class, and he knew them when they were in middle school. He knows his students and the students know him and the community knows Kelly,” McQuary said. “So he brings with him a familiarity, and we know that our best principals know their community, they know their students and they’ve demonstrated excellent skills and knowledge of the curriculum.”
Lowry said he’s hopeful for the future of Point Loma High and looks forward to reconnecting with students — wherever that may be. He said he’s also looking forward to some of the changes that will result from this unprecedented time.
“What I’m most looking forward to is seeing how our students and staff grow,” he said. “The other stuff that we’d normally be happy to see … we’re working on ways to try to do some of that stuff virtually — how do we meet as clubs virtually, how do we do performances and continue to do music in a way we can share? We’re kind of still in the discussion phase, but that’s some of the stuff I really enjoy about being around school and talking with kids. But what I do know is people are going to grow and learn. And so I’m excited to see those changes.”
Lowry said the best part about teaching high school kids is helping to guide them as they develop.
“I’ve always worked in high schools, and what I love are the semi-adult conversations you can have with these kids. You really get to know what they’re about as individuals,” he said. “High school, for a lot of us, is a transformative time, a time where you really figure out or start to figure out who you are, and to be able to see kids engaged in those experiences, to help them figure that out, or to even help them in that process, that’s cool. That’s what I love.”
Outside of school, Lowry enjoys spending time with his wife, his 3½-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son. And since the coronavirus shutdown in March, he’s been spending more time than ever with his family, which he sees as a silver lining.
It’s also given him time to figure out how to lead a high school during this time of uncertainty about whether students will resume in-person learning or remain online. San Diego Unified announced Aug. 10 that it could be months before children can return to campuses, according to new and stricter reopening standards.
“Things have changed so much and so rapidly, even back from March, and still things are changing,” Lowry said. “And not just with the global pandemic — there’s some social change and political change, and they all affect the school community and the community overall. And so, some of the uncertainty is challenging and possibly even frustrating at times because, as a system, we need to respond to those changes and provide the safest environment, both socially and academically, for everybody.”
McQuary said the goal is to have kids come back to a safe school community.
“Our priority and our first concern is making sure that our students and employees are safe,” he said. “We think that Kelly is on top of that. ... We hope to be able to [move from online learning into in-person learning] as soon as possible.”
Whatever the fate of schooling this fall, McQuary said he’s confident that Lowry is equipped for the challenge.
“The Point Loma school, they are Pointers for life. It’s got parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. It’s a school with a long, long tradition,” he said. “I think Kelly understands that, he knows that, the community knows that and he’s off to a terrific start and we wish him well.”