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A time for everything: Superintendent Mike Weiler to retire

‘Changed the culture of our district for the better’

Kent City — After 11 years at the helm in Kent City, Mike Weiler is retiring – again.

Weiler originally retired in 2006 as superintendent of Kent ISD. Before that, he served from 1987 to 1999 as superintendent of Sparta Area Schools.

But in 2011, he was asked if he was interested in heading up Kent City Community Schools. He took the job, thinking he’d be there for six months or a year. “That went by pretty quickly, and then the second year went by pretty quickly … so here we are, 2022,” he said. 

“Long story short, I like it here. I’ve liked it here. I’ve gotten along with the people here. But with that said, I think there’s a time for everything, and having been through retirement once I kind of know what it’s like. So I think this time I will probably stay that way.”

Assistant Superintendent Bill Crane will take the helm from Weiler on Tuesday, March 1.

‘From his first day at Kent City until the end of his time here, you knew that decisions for the district were going to be based on what was best for kids.’

– Assistant Superintendent Bill Crane, in praise of retiring Superintendent Mike Weiler

Prior to Weiler’s tenure, the district had a series of shorter-term superintendents, serving one to three years each. Weiler said most superintendents in districts of Kent City’s size – about 1,200 students among four buildings – are in their first superintendent job. Weiler came in with almost 25 years of experience. 

“As a new administrator in 2011, I could not have asked for a better mentor,” Crane said. “Mike’s vast experience was a huge benefit for me, personally and professionally.”

Said Pam Thomas, Kent City Elementary School principal: “So much of what I have learned about leadership came from watching Mike Weiler in action. His willingness to share his wisdom over the years has been invaluable to all of us that have had the privilege to work closely with him.”

Changing District Achievement, Culture  

In his time at Kent City, Weiler has overseen significant improvement in student achievement, especially at Kent City High School. When Weiler arrived, the high school was persistently on a low-achieving list, in the bottom 5% of schools in Kent County. “They shouldn’t have been there,” he said. “We got that straightened around in short order, and our students have done well.”

Weiler’s commitment to improving student achievement was overarching and constant. “From his first day at Kent City until the end of his time here, you knew that decisions for the district were going to be based on what was best for kids,” Crane said.

Weiler also took an intentional approach to reforming the culture of Kent City Community Schools. He said he focused on recognizing the work staff members do, supporting them, listening well and cultivating a culture of mutual respect. 

Said Thomas: “When facing challenging situations, Mike would rarely tell you what to do, but would walk alongside you, ask questions, serve as a guide and support you in the process.”

Weiler said the key was to “listen and then create a climate where mutual respect is known and shown. And then, you(‘ve) got to walk the talk. Talk’s cheap.” 

It worked; staff bought in. “I feel good about that, walking out the door.”

Crane said the community has been receptive to Weiler’s leadership. “Mike changed the culture of our district for the better, which might be the hardest thing to do as a leader,” he said.

Weiler said he feels confident he is leaving the district in better shape than it was when he arrived. “We are moving ahead here, we have been, and I think we’ll continue. So my hope would be that the work will continue and the results in terms of student achievement would continue, and I believe that they will.”

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Abigail Ham, SNN intern
Abigail Ham is an intern reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She is a junior at Calvin University. She is the managing editor of Calvin’s student newspaper Chimes and editorial assistant for the academic journal Pedagogy. She also enjoys creative writing of all sorts.

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