Not long ago, Charles Rowland III went to vote.
His polling place happened to be , the place where, on Tuesday, Rowland will welcome more than 1,700 students as their new principal.
While voting, he spoke to a few of the poll workers, and some of them mentioned that Rochester High was where they had attended school.
One of those workers was 82.
That's when it hit Rowland—the history of the school, which started in 1889 in what is now the district's administration building on University. It moved to its current location on Walton in 1956.
Rochester High School, as an institution, is more than 100 years old. The Falcons have a tradition to uphold, Rowland said.
From Hampton to Rochester High
Rowland was hired this summer to replace of the school to be director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals.
Rowland has a history with Rochester High: He was an assistant principal at the school for seven years before becoming principal at two years ago.
Rowland said he loved the Hampton community and feels fortunate because those students will eventually attend Rochester High.
"I will get to see the finished product when these kids get to high school," he said.
At Rochester High, Rowland will lead a staff of 105 and a student body of about 1,770.
"There's a tradition of good things at this school," he said. "This is the original high school, and the kids know that and they are proud to be here.
"The school spirit? I will tell you, it's unlike anything I've ever seen."
A kid-centered leader
Rowland grew up in Detroit and attended Groves High School, where he enjoyed sports and art classes. He earned his undergraduate degree at Wayne State University. He said that if he had free time these days, he would spend it playing golf and riding his bike. He also enjoys music and being outdoors.
This summer, Rowland married Rachel Guinn, principal at . Their marriage is somewhat full circle: They first met during an event at Rochester High School.
Rowland describes his leadership style as visible, accessible, supportive and collaborative.
"We have a shared leadership model and I encourage collaborative input in decision-making," he said.
But, first and foremost, he said, it is kid-centered.
"Without kids, all of our decisions and energies are for nothing."
'It's gotta be a calling'
In his first year as leader at Rochester High, Rowland said he will focus on getting to know the students—though he knows many of the older students from his time at the school three years ago.
"My goal is to know as many kids as I can by name," he said. "I need to make time to have interactions with kids."
Grade-level meetings with groups of kids are one of his goals for the year. He said the school is also looking to offer more AP and honors courses; they are also working to open a reading lab for incoming ninth-graders.
"Kids who graduate from Rochester High are prepared for 21st century success," he said. "They exceed the state average in ACT and MEAP. When you talk about academics, this is one of the top districts."
Rowland looks forward to the year ahead.
"Being a principal is a big responsibility," he said. "Parents entrust their most valued possession—their kids.
"To have an opportunity to impact kids in a positive way, it's gotta be a calling—you have to want it and love it. I love doing this and I'm honored to be a part of education in this community."
This is part of a series of profiles of new leaders at Rochester Schools this year. Read about . Tomorrow: Rachel Guinn takes over as principal at Hart Middle School.