MESICK — The Mesick Consolidated Schools' board of education has selected a new superintendent to lead the district following the departure of Scott Akom in the spring.
"Hello Bulldog Community! My name is Joe Hollenbeck and I am thrilled to introduce myself as the new Superintendent for your school district, beginning July 1st," Hollenbeck wrote in a message to the community on the school district's website and on social media. "I look forward to learning more about this proud community and meeting our students, teachers and parents when classes begin at summer's end. In the meantime, enjoy the lazy days of summer and Go Bulldogs!"
Hollenbeck, 64, is a native of Frankfort and attended college at Central Michigan University before serving as principal of Frankfort Junior/Senior High School from 2000 to 2005. After that, Hollenbeck served as a principal at a number of American schools overseas.
Hollenbeck told the Cadillac News he learned about the job opening at Mesick Consolidated Schools through the Michigan Association of School Board's website and decided to apply. This will be his first superintendent job and its proximity to his old stomping grounds is a big perk, he said.
While Hollenbeck's background is a bit different than the other candidates who applied for the position, the board decided to give him a shot.
"I credit the board for being curious enough to interview me," Hollenbeck said. "I'm really thankful for this opportunity."
Hollenbeck said being a superintendent is different from being a principal in a number of respects, but much of the difference boils down to the superintendent being responsible for more of the big picture aspects of the district such as financial health and facility conditions while a principal is more involved in the day-to-day experience of the students and staff.
Interacting with students every day is one thing he'll miss about being a principal but Hollenbeck said he's also excited about his new role.
Since arriving a couple of weeks ago, his first order of business has been to meet with school officials, parents, community stakeholders and others to get a feel for the district.
"To find out what people like, what can be approved upon, and to find patterns," Hollenbeck said.
While it's still pretty early in that process, Hollenbeck said he has identified a few initial goals for the district, both short and long term.
For one thing, Hollenbeck said he's noticed some facility issues that he'd like to address.
"The secondary building is a little rough around the edges on the outside," Hollenbeck said. "The kids should be going into a building that gives the impression that the community values the school."
To pay for repairs to the building, Hollenbeck said it's possible they'll dip into funds that are currently available to the district.
Cognizant of the last two failed millage attempts to fund wide-scale facility updates at the district, Hollenbeck said easing into another millage request could become a long-term goal.
In the meantime, Hollenbeck said he'll be focusing on providing all the tools the staff and teachers need to give students the best educational experience possible.
"The most important thing is good teachers," Hollenbeck said. "Everybody I've met with has been really positive and proud of the work they're doing here."