Mar 18, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterAfter two years as superintendent at St. Stephen's Indian School, Mike Hejtmanek has decided to resign from the position.
He announced his departure to the school trustees in February.
"I'm really pleased with my tenure here," he said. "It's been rewarding."
Hejtmanek said he had no regrets in initially taking the position and felt "it was time this time" to leave the school and have the opportunity to retire.
He began as superintendent in 2012, having served in that capacity for 17 other schools in the past.
Hejtmanek said he plans to move back to New Mexico where his wife resides, and he hopes to catch up with his grandchildren. He replaced Louis Headley, who stepped down from the position in 2012 after 17 years on the job.
Hejtmantek started as a teacher in New Mexico in 1974. He later taught in Colorado, where he became a principal. He served as principal in three Worland schools over the course of 11 years, and in 1995 he moved to Meeteetse where he was superintendent for three years. He moved back to Worland in 1998 and served as superintendent there for 12 years.
In 2010 he retired and moved to New Mexico. He later came out of retirement to become a consultant for the Wyoming Department of Education while still
living in New Mexico.
Upon the request of the school board, he said he plans to return to St. Stephen's periodically to be a consultant to the school and administration. He noted several improvements at the St. Stephen's schools during his short tenure: Both schools have been remodeled, and new flooring has been installed at the elementary school, where a new air conditioning also system was built.
In addition, he pointed to the "revamped" security systems at St. Stephen's, as well as a completed track at the high school. A consultant was hired to work on the transition to new Common Core educational standards, Hejtmanek said, and the school has seen "very little" staff turnover, with three new people hired this year.
"We're trying to build a relationship with staff and the community," he said. "It's hard when you bring in new people, but we made a very good transition."
Test scores and attendance are improving, he added, and a new vocational facility has helped the school progress toward its goals for student education and higher learning.
Space for vocational instruction was created at the St. Stephen's bus barn, where Central Wyoming College teachers provide college credit courses for area students. This school year, instructors are teaching electronics basics every Tuesday and Thursday. Previously, they offered a freshman seminar focused on physical fitness.
"It's important we give our students some vocational training so they can go out in the workplace," Hejtmanek said.
The school board will have to choose a permanent superintendent candidate by January 2015. Elma Brown, currently the elementary and middle school principal, will take over as interim superintendent, Hejtmanek said. Brown also will have the opportunity to determine whether she'd like to stay on as superintendent under a contract.
Brown took over as principal for Marilyn Groesbeck in 2012. Brown was born and raised on the Wind River Indian Reservation and was a curriculum coordinator at St. Stephen's between 2009 and 2012. Prior to that, she was an instructional coach at a school in New Mexico; she also taught fourth grade in Kansas and had a principal practicum in Colorado.
Before earning her college degrees, including both a bachelor's and master's, Brown worked in the daycare field and was a paraprofessional and a substitute teacher. Hejtmanek said Brown would work well as superintendent; he had faith she would continue to pursue the goals that have been established for St. Stephen's students.
High school principal Suzanne Kinneman was approved for another year. The school plans to advertise for the elementary and middle school principal position. Hejtmanek's resignation would be effective at the end of the school year on June 30, 2014.
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