Retiring Tecumseh superintendent reflects on 47 years of service
Supt. Mike McAran has been the chief administrator in Tecumseh Public Schools for eight years, so long that many people may have forgotten his long service to the school district before assuming the top post.
He began in the system in 1976 when Tecumseh High School (THS) principal Clarence Lacny hired him as assistant principal. Soon after beginning at THS, he added athletic director to his assistant principal duties when Don Brazee retired from that post.
During his stint at the high school, along with his assistant principal and AD position, he was asked to direct the adult education program, which allowed community members to take classes in the evening at the high school. He continued administering on those three fronts until he was offered the principal position at Sand Creek schools for the junior and senior high schools in 1984.
After serving TPS for eight years, McAran led the Sand Creek schools for 14 years, becoming well known in Lenawee County through his combined association with the two schools that he had devoted a combined total of 22 years of his career.
But, as Tecumseh school district students and residents know well, McAran never gave up his allegiance to Tecumseh, returning to become Tecumseh Middle School principal in 1998. This timeline is common knowledge to a good portion of the populace of Lenawee County.
What is less well known is what he was doing when he was not behind his desk, patrolling the halls of the schools he was in charge of, or attending the hundreds of after school games, plays, and concerts. He was and remains a very active presence in the community.
McAran has the unique distinction of having served as president of both the Tecumseh Kiwanis Club and Tecumseh Rotary Club. “I have the proud distinction of being one of the few who have served as president of both clubs,” he said.
He has served many other local organizations and foundations along the way, including a long tenure on the board of Herrick Hospital, as it was called when he took his seat. “I stopped for gas at Easton’s [now Baker Brothers] and Harold [Easton] said, ‘I’m going to nominate you for the hospital board,’” said McAran. He served on the board for 13 years. He also served on the board of the Lenawee Health Authority, which governed both Herrick and Bixby hospitals.
But McAran’s history in Lenawee County goes even farther back. He was born in Petersburg and graduated from Summerfield High School in 1962, having participated in wrestling, football, and baseball. After graduation from high school, he attended Adrian College (AC), where he continued his interest in sports, wrestling in particular, participating through his four years at the college.
He was president of his freshman class at AC, but it was during his sophomore year that he experienced an event that would change his life. He met a freshman named Judy. They married in 1966, the year he graduated with a major in social studies and a minor in English.
That was also the year that he began his 47 years in education by accepting a teaching position at Fraser High School, north of Detroit. During that time, he spent his summer as a deputy with the Huron-Clinton Authority, cruising Lake St. Claire as a law enforcement officer.
After his stint at Fraser High School, he accepted a position with Utica Ford as assistant principal in 1975. He came to Tecumseh High School when principal Clarence Lacny hired him as his assistant in 1976.
McAran said that he is retiring with a great sense of satisfaction. “We are operating right now on less revenue than we were in 2002,” he said, “and despite that, we have never had to cut any academic or athletic programs. We have added orchestra, full-time choir instruction at the high school and middle school.”
McAran said that one of his proudest moments came recently when a teacher told him that she was grateful to be in the district because most districts in the county and the state had cut art, music, and physical education, but TPS has managed to continue offering those courses.
“I’ve had to make some tough calls,” he said. “I didn’t like privatizing the departments that we did, but the board agreed it was necessary to keep the educational programs. I also have no regrets about supporting the new football stadium. It’s a great selling point for people who come here. It makes the school and Tecumseh more attractive to new residents. I give a lot of credit to the board at that time. It took a lot of courage to vote for it. It was a controversial move, but I think most people are happy that we have it now.”
As for what comes after nearly half a century in the education business, McAran said that he still hasn’t had enough. He still has children in the system, both teaching and studying, and he plans on offering his services on a volunteer basis to Indian sports.
“Judy and I have no intention of leaving Tecumseh,” he said. “It’s a great place to live. Always has been and I think it always will be. I plan to be working out a little more and riding my bike, but I hope to be coaching, too. Florida or Arizona are not in the game plan.”