The Washington School District has begun a search for a new middle school principal to begin in August 2019.
Current Principal Ron Millheiser plans to retire at the end of this school year, according to Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer.
“Ron has been as asset to the district and will be missed by so many,” VanLeer told The Missourian.
“We both transitioned into administration at the same time and became assistant principals at Washington High School,” she said. “It took little to no time to notice his tremendous work ethic and desire to lead. I enjoyed working side by side with him and was thrilled when he became the middle school principal.”
Millheiser, of Union, said he’s “grateful” to have spent his entire 29-year career in education with the Washington School District.
“I was interviewed for my first job in the district in 1990 by then Principal Jim Perry in the very principal office in which I now work out of every day,” he noted. “It’s funny because I can honestly say that I never set out to be a principal, it was just something that sort of evolved over time.”
Millheiser said working under such “dynamic leaders” in his early years, including Perry, Mark Wessels and Marty Riggs, most likely had something to do with it.
Millheiser spent his first nine year years in the classroom at the middle school, from 1990 to 1999.
Then he spent four years as a guidance counselor, 1999-2003, at Washington High School before serving as an assistant principal there from 2003-2006.
He came back to the middle school in 2006 as assistant principal. The following year, he was named co-principal of the middle school along with Susan Harms.
“Working with Susan for seven years was without question one of the most remarkable periods of my career,” he said. “Susan was a teacher-centered educator who led by example. Her previous principalship experience in Texas, along with her countless connections in education, helped us immensely as we worked to grow our staff and shape our building.”
In 2014, after Harms retired, Millheiser was named building principal. Laura Bruckerhoff has been the associate principal the past five years and Millheiser said he has enjoyed working with her.
“Washington Middle School has always been such a special place to me,” he said. “I’ve been in this building 22 of my 29 years. I started teaching here when it was a junior high school and was part of the teaching team when it transitioned to a middle school in 1993.”
Millheiser said he has always viewed his role as middle school principal as preserving and building on the legacy of those who came before him.
“In particular Mark Wessels, whose vision in the mid-1990s shaped this building into what it’s still today — one of the very best middle school models in the state,” he said. “Mark implemented the middle school philosophy/teaming idea, used creative scheduling and implemented exploratory classes.”
These are all timeless ideas that the school is either currently implementing or looking to re-establish, he noted.
“Of course, none of this would be possible without one of the most talented and nurturing teaching staffs that you would ever find,” Millheiser added. “As I step away, the new leadership of WMS will find this staff well-positioned and willing to take on any challenge or initiative thrown their way.”
Millheiser said his philosophy of school leadership is simple — kids and teachers come first . . . programs come second.
After retirement, Millheiser said he does plan on working, but initially wants to spend more time with his family and on his boat at the Lake of the Ozarks.