Dear Walkerville Community,
As the Walkerville Board of Education begins the process of seeking a superintendent/principal to replace me, I want to write a few words about why I’m leaving and why I’m not leaving. I am not leaving for another job. I am not currently seeking other employment, nor do I intend to do so in the immediate future. I’m not leaving because of problems. The financial health of the school district is strong. A committed staff is in place with a solid start on a Multiple-tiered System of Support to improve the achievement level of all students. Our buildings and buses are good shape. We have an incredible school district.
I am leaving because I’m blessed with the health and financial means to go after a dream. I’ve wanted to take another long distance walk since I stepped off the Appalachian Trail in 1991. Recently, I have seen too many friends and relatives deal with serious illness or death to not pursue an opportunity of a lifetime. Life is too short to have regrets; I’m going to walk the Continental Divide Trail.
My fiftieth birthday rolls around next summer, and it’s now or never for me. The physical challenges of walking 2800 miles from Canada to Mexico won’t let me delay.
Walkerville Public Schools has been a constant in my life since 1996 when I first came through the doors as a substitute. A student stood on a desk my very first period and told me, “I don’t have to listen to you because we get a new principal every year and the substitutes only come once.” I didn’t know what to do. I gave him a standing ovation, told him I’d never seen a finer performance, and coaxed him off the desk. Mr. Tim Webster hired me full-time the next summer, I haven’t looked back. I got to take a basketball team to a regional final, coached a couple of all-state runners, worked on my instructional practice in English and social studies, built my leadership skills through union work, and capped it off by accepting the challenge of being a superintendent/principal.
Moving from the classroom directly to the superintendent chair was the most difficult thing I have ever done. It looks much easier from the outside. Almost from the very first day I was expected to do things I had no idea how to do. I was asked questions I’d never even considered. It stretched me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’m so grateful for that opportunity. I grew as a professional educator and as a human being. I’m a better person for the experience.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do after the trail. I just know it is time for me to take this step.
“There is no cat like a Wildcat.”
Michael L. Sweet
P.S. You can follow my walk as I blog at The Trek by clicking HERE.