In a special meeting Thursday afternoon that ran about 15 minutes, the Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk School District board of education formally accepted the resignation of principal Rob Way.
In reading Way’s letter of resignation as MHLT principal to school board members Billy Fried, Joan Christgau and board president Mary Whitman, district administrator Jim Ellis, normally very business like in his role as administrator, let his guard down a little and got emotional.
“‘Dr. Ellis, please accept this letter of resignation as principal of the Minocqua J1 School District, effective Aug. 1,’” Ellis read. “‘Serving as the principal has been personally ... and professionally rewarding for me.’ Hope I can do this.”
Ellis managed to get through the rest of Way’s letter, pausing a few times to compose himself.
Whitman, her voice a little shaky with emotion as well, said a motion was needed to accept Way’s resignation.
“I’ll make the motion to accept,” Christgau said, “with regret.”
“Do I have a second?” Whitman asked, and all eyes went to Fried, who kept things a little light with some humor.
“He [Ellis] obviously doesn’t want us to accept,” he said, which did bring some laughter.
Whitman made the second and Fried said he likes to kid around but he really would not like to accept Way’s resignation, though he knew it wouldn’t change anything.
“The saving grace, as we said as we did his exit interview is at least he’s here at the high school, he said. “That makes it a little easier.”
“I agree,” Whitman said. “We wish you the best, Rob. We will miss you, we hope it works out and we know you will be looking out for us.”
Fried and Whitman were alluding to Way’s new job as Lakeland Union High School’s new Director of Curriculum Instruction and Assessment, which he started Monday.
He succeeds Dr. Faye DeMarte, who will remain with LUHS for the 2014-15 school year on a part-time basis in a transitional role.
The Lakeland Times had first reported about Way’s departure from MHLT in its July 11 edition.
“He has really taken our district to the next level,” Ellis said of Way then. “His replacement will have some big shoes to fill.”
After voting to accept Way’s resignation Thursday, a few minutes later it approved the hiring of the man who will take over for Way, Brent Johnson, coming from Rockford, Illinois.
Way’s last days at MHLT
Thursday was Way’s last full day at MHLT; he did a half day Friday.
“I’m just kind of wrapping up here,” he said Thursday morning. “I’m dressed pretty casual. Usually, I’m in shirt and tie. Today, I’m going sandals.”
That sandal look at work for Way was short-lived, however, with his start Monday at LUHS.
Way had been at MHLT for 20 years, first as a teacher for 12 years and as principal for the last eight and during those 20 years at MHLT, has made some pretty good relationships and established some good connections.
“It’s just so exciting and bittersweet,” he told the Lakeland Times Thursday. “I’ve built so many positive relationships here but everybody has been so kind. I came to work this morning and there was ... you know, ‘Good luck, Mr. Way’ on the marquee. Pretty cool.”
Way said, as everybody knows, change is a process.
“It’s one of letting go and starting anew,” he said. “I’m just reflecting on the tremendous amount of change I’ve seen at MHLT over the past 20 years and in particular the last eight years. And yet, the excitement of a new professional challenge. I love that.”
On the personal side, Way said staying in the area will allow him to continue to enjoy the deep roots he has with family and friends and his church.
Professionally, the move to LUHS will obviously mean he will be in close contact with MHLT administration and staff.
“I’ll certainly be professionally reaching out and continuing to build relationships with area schools and area administrators,” Way said.
In other action, the board Thursday:
• Accepted the resignations of music teacher Kathryn Piper and sixth grade teacher Graham Szkeres. Piper and Szkeres had each been with MHLT for three years. The board also accepted the resignation of Casey Sovil, a Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) teacher who had been with the district for a year.
• In addition to hiring Johnson as the new MHLT principal, the board approved the hiring of Gail Petersen as the new music teacher, Catherine Metius as a new sixth grade teacher and Stephanie O’Brien as a new seventh and eighth grade math teacher.
Brian Jopek may be reached at email@example.com.