2017 Lutheran Principal of the Year3 min read

Wednesday morning chapel at Trinity Lutheran School in Clinton Township was extra special on May 17. Principal Julian Petzold thought the only exciting event was a kindergartener being baptized in front of his classmates and friends, but little did he know he was about to be honored with the Michigan District 2017 Principal of the Year Award.

Petzold, who has served as Trinity’s principal for seven years, was in the dark about the award. He thought everyone was coming to witness the Baptism, including his family. After the chapel service, during the weekly school announcements time, Trinity’s Senior Pastor Ken Wise presented Petzold with the award.

Wise read from the anonymous nomination form. A staff member wrote, “It’s such a blessing to work for and with Julian. He is truly a man of God and easily shares his faith with everyone in all he says and does. He gives his undivided attention to whoever needs it, no matter how busy he is. He is wise beyond his years.”

A parent wrote, “He has a vision for 21st century Christian education and how to make faith relevant to our students and their families.”

Another parent said, “When searching for the best school environment for my new kindergartener, I met with Julian. Thanks to the environment he’s created at Trinity, not only did my daughter end up coming there, but I came too.”

Many staff and parents who contributed to his nomination attested to his listening skills, personal attention to detail, and his true, genuine leadership.

“Julian takes time to really know our students, more than just names and faces. He listens to them and gets to know their interests and strengths and encourages them. In doing so, he creates strong, trusting relationships with their parents,” wrote another parent.

Lutheran Schools Superintendent, Dr. Bruce Braun, said, “We thank God for leaders like Julian who serve at Michigan District Lutheran Schools. To God be the glory for Julian’s ministry!”

In addition to serving as principal at Trinity, Petzold is also currently enrolled in a doctoral degree program at Concordia University in Chicago. He also lends his leadership and expertise to others as he has served on several accreditation teams, spoken at various conferences, and is recognized as a leader in the Macomb County region. In 2006, he was awarded the Lutheran Education Association Outstanding Early Childhood Center Director Award.

“We are grateful for you and your leadership at Trinity and the way you serve us,” said Wise.

Petzold said he was overwhelmed by the honor, which came as a true surprise.

“Thank you for everything you do to make my job so easy,” Petzold said to the students, faculty, staff, and parents gathered to watch him receive the award. “I love coming in every day and seeing you. I’m thankful to God for my teachers, faculty, staff, and everyone that makes it fantastic to be here. Thanks to everyone for making this such a great place.”

Petzold was awarded a statue and a check for $500 to direct to any area of ministry at the school that he sees fit. His name will also be added to a plaque at the Michigan District office in Ann Arbor, and he will be recognized at the principals’ conference this summer.

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About the Author

Rebecca Thomas is the communications director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton Township and a freelance writer serving the Metro Detroit area. When she's not crafting her next article, she's hanging out with her husband, three daughters and two Newfoundlands.

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