WENDELL — For the first time since 2003, Wendell School District will have a new superintendent next year.
After 14 years at the helm, Greg Lowe will retire at the end of this school year.
He made the announcement during an August school board meeting. Because of some confusion among employees who hadn’t heard the news or had questions, he sent out an email Wednesday to confirm he’s retiring.
Lowe plans to officially step down as superintendent June 30, 2018. He said Thursday he wanted to announce his retirement as early as possible.
“It’s a good thing, I think, for the school district,” he said. “It helps prepare. It helps plan as the year goes through.”
Wendell’s school board is conducting a nationwide search, school board chairwoman Tessa Yon said Thursday afternoon.
“Ideally, we’d like to have someone hired no later than March,” Yon said. “We are appreciative of all Greg has done for the Wendell community and the students in our district.”
Lowe isn’t the only Idaho superintendent nearing retirement age. Two-thirds of the state’s superintendents, 72 of 105, are 50 or older, according to the Idaho State Department of Education.
Here in south-central Idaho, Twin Falls’ Wiley Dobbs retired in September. Cassia County School District superintendent Gaylen Smyer announced in April he’ll retire at the end of this school year.
Lowe, who has been an Idaho educator for 40 years, started his career as a teacher in the Grace School District, where he spent 15 years.
“I taught sixth-grade almost every one of those years, which I loved,” he said. He also spent a few years as balancing both teaching and principal duties.
He served as school principal for 11 years in Mini-Cassia before becoming superintendent of the Wendell School District, which has about 1,200 students.
Lowe said his highlights as a superintendent include working with coworkers and the community, reviving the agriculture program at Wendell schools, and overseeing curriculum, including literacy.
Plus, a new elementary school opened in 2012 “that really is meeting the needs of the community and children so well,” he said. There was 77 percent approval for the $9.8 million bond measure, which voters approved in 2010.
When Paula Chapman was searching for her first school administrator job, she wanted to find a superintendent who’d support her. She said she found that in Wendell.
Now, she has been principal for five years at Wendell Elementary School.
Lowe has a wealth of knowledge as an instructional leader, she said, and provides leadership that’s impacted both her and the school district.
“He wants to see teachers grow as professionals,” Chapman said. “Education is his priority. He’s an educator first. “
He enjoys seeing students grow to their full potential, both academically and socially, Chapman said.
Lowe is frequently seen out and about in Wendell’s schools, and he conducts five-minute observations that he follows up with providing feedback.
“The teachers know who he is. He’s very active in their school day,” Chapman said.
He wants to know what’s happening in town, has an open door policy and wants to know what community members think of what’s happening in the school district, she said.
Chapman also described Lowe as an active listener and excellent communicator who takes suggestions open-heartedly.
One example of Lowe’s efforts to reach the community: He worked closely with the school board to organize “The Face of Wendell Schools Roadshow,” slated for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the elementary school gymnasium. The event is intended to showcase school district programs, projects and people.
“It demonstrates his philosophy that we’re not a standalone school district,” Chapman said. “We need our community.”