When students return to class this coming August for the 2012-13 school year, Goshen Community Schools just won’t be the same. In the past three months, three longtime educators in Goshen have announced they will retire at the end of the current school year. Goshen High School principal Jim Kirkton was the latest.
Kirkton, who has led GHS since 2001, began his career fresh out of Illinois State University in 1971 as an English teacher at the old Whiteman Junior High School. That building has since been absorbed by the high school after Whiteman merged with Towncrest Junior High in the early 1990s. So, in a sense, Kirkton will finish where he started. Sandwiched in between is a legacy that touched more young lives than can even be realized.
MUCH THE SAME can be said about Chamberlain Elementary School Principal Don Jantzi, who has led that school for the past 22 years; or GCS Superintendent Bruce Stahly, who for 13 years has guided the corporation through the challenges of No Child Left Behind and increasing enrollments. Jantzi announced his retirement early in March and Stahly announced his back in January. Between those three men, the Goshen community will lose more than 110 years of education experience when the final bell sounds on the 2011-12 school year. What it won’t relinquish is their impact.
IT HAS BEEN EASY over the past decade to get caught up with the politics of education. For those on the outside looking in — the armchair quarterbacks, so to speak — education has seemingly digressed into a formula, where numbers are fit together to determine success or failure. If only it were that easy to calculate the essence of reaching children, especially children who are saddled with circumstances in their lives most of us can hardly imagine.
There is certainly a place for test scores and accountability in education, but it isn’t always proportionate to the true measure of education. Relationships matter and so do role models. Therefore, there will always be a place for men like Kirkton, Jantzi and Stahly who dedicate themselves to helping children, young women and young men become whatever their dreams might be.