The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 30, 2012

Educator retires after 35 years of service

Doug Hladek’s last day as JALS superintendent will be June 30

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The next step in a life of “dream jobs” is open now that Jefferson Area Local Schools Superintendent Doug Hladek has decided to retire after 35 years of service to two area school districts.

Hladek officially made his decision earlier this month. “I was pretty sure I would retire at the end of this year,” he said of the thought process that began early in the year.

He said changes in the teachers state retirement system made it advantageous to retire at the conclusion of this year.

Hladek said he has enjoyed all of his jobs and is satisfied with his long career as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. He said he may return to the educational field.

“My wife has been retired for two years ... all of a sudden you look at life a little different,” Hladek said.

“The toughest thing is, I enjoy working,” Hladek said. “I said I’m going to be open minded to any opportunity that presents itself,” Hladek said.

He said a number of retirees advised him sit out six months before entertaining job options.

Hladek began his career in 1978 as a physical education, health and science teacher at Columbus Junior High School in Ashtabula. He then served as an assistant principal at the school for six years.

Hladek was then principal at State Road Elementary School from 1993 until 1998 and then moved on to be principal at McKinsey Elementary School from 1998 until 2002.

The next step on the career ladder was the assistant superintendent of schools job in the Ashtabula Area City Schools district.

Hladek was hired to run the JALS in 2006 and saw the district through a building program that included two elementary schools, a junior high and a high school.

“Being a part of the building process was a great experience,” Hladek said. He said he also enjoyed putting together an administrative staff at Jefferson including J.C. Montanero, Todd Tulino, Jeremy Huber and Rick Hoyson.

Hladek said he did not retire because of the economic conditions that have placed school districts in difficult financial situations or the violence which has occurred in schools across the country, but both are never far from the minds of superintendents.

“We understand people are struggling with the impact of a depressed economy,” he said of the climate that leads to failed school levies and then layoffs.

Hladek said the shootings at Chardon and Newtown, Conn., bring a stark reality to the educational field.

“That (the shootings) hit home with all of us,” he said. Hladek said it robs children of the educational innocence as they have to be concerned about their safety at school.

Hladek said he enjoyed working with the JALS school board, administrators and teachers. He said he was also proud of the improved quality of education in the Jefferson Area Local Schools with Jefferson High School and Rock Creek Elementary School receiving excellent status and Jefferson Junior High and Jefferson Elementary School earning improved status.

Hladek said he has enjoyed all aspects of his career especially starting out as a physical education teacher.

“How much fun is that (teaching physical education)? They give you the keys to the gym,” he said with a laugh. He said he also enjoyed being principal at two elementary schools.

One of the most interesting aspects of Hladek’s career was in 1987 when he first became an administrator at Columbus just in time for a school strike. He said he walked the picket line half the day and then put on a suit to take his job as assistant principal.

“That was my baptism into administration,” he said.

In a retirement letter to the JALS Board of Education Hladek thanked the district for their support and informed them of his desire to retire June 30, 2013.

“It has been a pleasure and privilege to watch the amazing accomplishments of our students as they grow from kindergarten to graduates and become successful, productive citizens,” he stated in the letter.

Dr. Patricia Hoyson, president of the JALS Board of Education, thanked Hladek for his seven years of service to the district. “He has been a wonderful superintendent for  JALS and has touched the lives of children, parents, staff and the entire JALS community. We congratulate Mr. Hladek on his retirement and wish him all the best,” she said.