On Mar. 16 Superintendent Dr. Martin Stessman announced his retirement after an executive session in a scheduled board meeting.
“(I decided to retire) because it was time…sometimes you make decisions and divide that paper into two columns with pluses and minuses on either side and you list out your pluses and minuses and make a nice, rational decision. And then sometimes you make decisions based on reflection and introspection. You listen to that little voice inside your head and try to see what it’s trying to tell you, and my little voice told me it was time to retire,” Dr. Stessman said.
Prior to the school’s release for spring break and eventual cancellation, Dr. Stessman delivered a speech regarding his DUI last April. This was in accordance with one of the conditions the board of education made that allowed him to keep his job following the arrest. The speech was followed by much controversy, of which Dr. Stessman apologized as well.
“(The retirement) did come as a surprise. It was certainly a difficult thing that we as a board had to come to terms with and accept,” president of the school board Lauren Tice Miller said.
Dr. Stessman has spent 15 years as the district’s superintendent. In this time, 90% of the administrators were hired by either Dr. Stessman or principal Mr. West, and 70% of teachers were hired during his time with the district.
“I think the best influence you can have on an organization is to hire the best people you can, and then to develop those people. I think we’re a lot better at teaching and learning. I know our teachers are better trained than they were 15 years ago. They have adaptive schools in quantum training and so they’re taught how to establish a classroom environment and how to create lessons. They’re also then taught how to collaborate, which is the best way to move the needle in education in terms of student achievement. I think we’re better at teaching and learning and I think we’re more kid focused and we deliver higher quality instruction,” Dr. Stessman said
Dr. Stessman plans to continue working, hopefully in education.
“I’ve had a job since I was 12 years old, so I still need to work and still want to work. I’ll find someplace to work where I can make a new contribution to society,” Dr. Stessman said. “I think I’d prefer to work in education, mostly because I think that’s the most important job there is, is being an educator. I would look at other options, but primarily I would look for opportunities in education.”
Following his announcement, the Board is now tasked with the process of hiring someone else. As of right now, Matt Hirsch has been named as the Interim Superintendent, an expect return after him filling the same title last summer after Stessman’s DUI last spring. This will allow the board to wait until fall to begin looking, as it is late to have a thorough search. The board will work with the Kansas Association of School Boards to find someone through their leadership search.
“At our next board meeting actually we will be considering an agreement with the Kansas Association of School Boards. That’s kind of the first step in the process. Once we sign that agreement then they will help us establish what our formal timeline is,” Tice Miller said.
At the board’s last meeting, a retreat was approved for the members. The retreat will be hosted at the end of June, and it will allow them to look at their goals for the transition and what they’re looking for in a permanent leader. Following the retreat, they will work within their formal timeline to hopefully have the search begin later in the fall. Candidates will submit their applications, followed by interviews from an interview team.