SOUTH WHITLEY — At 64, Bruce Hansen is ready to slow down, finally.
At the end of the 2012-13 school year, Hansen will step down from his position as South Whitley Elementary School’s principal.
Although the retirement will mean his four years at SWES has ended, the process of leaving education is not a new one for Hansen.
In 2008, Hansen retired from a principal position in Washington before moving to Indiana.
“I needed something to do so I started substituting teaching,” Hansen said. “I came here and before I knew it, I had been here for four years.”
Hansen is ready to revisit the retired lifestyle he had intended on four years ago. Having family in Washington, Hansen hopes to spend more time on the West Coast and explore the East Coast.
“I’ve always wanted to visit the East Coast so I imagine we will venture out there,” Hansen said. “I still want to be busy and I want to travel. Retiring doesn’t mean that I will stop working. It just means I won’t be working in this office.”
While Hansen prepares to move out of the elementary school, Donna Wiktorowski is preparing to make the switch from Goshen to South Whitley as the next principal.
“I told her I will help her any way I can,” Hansen said. “I want to help make the transition as easy for her as possible.”
Wiktorowski has already made her presence known at SWES. She was in attendance for the kindergarten round up as well as other school activities.
“I would tell Donna to ask lots of questions and listen to what her teachers are telling her,” Hansen advised. “She doesn’t have to make any quick decisions or make a lot of changes. I would suggest that she get input from people, watch and observe what’s going on here and then decide what changes to bring about.”
Wiktorowski echos that sentiment. In fact, the collaborative effort she observed when visiting the district is what sparked her interest in the job.
“I was really impressed with how everyone works together,” Wiktorowski said. “From teachers to administrators, I think everyone has the same common goal —to better students both academically and personally.”
Leaving the school is bitter sweet for Hansen. Although he feels as if he has accomplished what he set out to do as principal, leaving behind a staff he has grown close to is difficult.
“Deciding to leave is somewhat of a relief for me. I am satisfied with what I’ve done here,” Hansen said. “I think I am leaving this school in a better place than I found it.”
One initiative Hansen had was to better the school’s climate and to unite faculty and staff.
“We are now connected. It’s hard to say good bye,” he said. “This is the hardest working, professional staff I have ever seen. They do it all for the kids. These teachers are so dedicated. It’s not just a few of them, it’s school-wide.”
With the leadership change, Hansen said he is trying to encourage the faculty to support Wiktorowski in her role.
“I tell them that their future is looking good,” Hansen said. “She is excited about coming here. Her enthusiasm is contagious and I think the teachers have already got a taste of that. I’ll still be around, I am sure, but it will be more as a volunteer and a support system.”