Two principals wrap up before retirement

Veterans credit teachers for making work enjoyable

June 5, 2012

Menomonee Falls - The Menomonee Falls School District is bidding farewell to two principals who have given a combined 26 years of service to the district.

Andy Heinowski, who has worked for 16 years as the principal of Shady Lane Elementary, and Kathy Marks, principal at Ben Franklin Elementary, are retiring at the end of the school year. Marks has been with the district for 10 years as principal. Both Heinowski and Marks have spent more than 30 years working in education.

Heinowski has watched about 400 students learn and grow every year since he first took his post at Shady Lane. For him, the difficulties in working with education was never the budget or administrative duties, it was ensuring his students become the best they can be as a result of their early childhood education.

'Doing the best you can'

"At the end of the year, we all get a little tear in our eye," Heinowski said. "You just trust you're doing the best you can and our district does the best it can."

The challenge for Heinowski was meeting the needs of individual students.

"Every year, you work with a child and they make gains and the next year's there's a whole new batch of students and you help them improve academically and socially," he said.

The challenge was greatly accepted. Heinowski said the staff has been with him every step of the way to meet student needs.

"I have such great families and staff to work with," he said. "It's a working environment that is very positive and I've really enjoyed it."

Every day was a different and unique challenge for Marks, who has worked 36 years in education, teaching for 20 years at Brookfield Central High School after spending time in two Wauwa tosa schools. Her career path made a full circle as she began her career path as a student-teacher at North Middle School in Menomonee Falls. It is in the same district she will now hang up her teaching hat.

"I have come to love the families. They are so supportive of the school and they participate and help and volunteer and that's what makes a school community," Marks said.

As principal at Ben Franklin, she said every year there has been a high volume of parental support. For a decade, the elementary school has hosted HOOPS night, a basketball fundraiser where staff plays staff. The fundraiser started as a need to replace the playground and has continued to grow over the years.

"It's a great family event and the kids love it," Marks said. "We really played it up as a really fun family night. Those are the types of things you can't ever replace and you can't even foresee."

Tough when borders changed

Her tenure with Menomonee Falls School District has not been without challenges, however. When the elementary school boundary lines were redrawn a few years ago, Marks said it was difficult to see families and teachers change schools.

"Change is difficult for people whether it was for students, or staff or teachers," she said.

The struggle has paid off, however, as the Early Learning Center was a positive result of the boundary changes.

"It was difficult to go through, but now we're two years of having that center and you can see the rewards of having it," she said. "It was a great professional decision."

In her retirement, Marks has plans to travel, reconnect with old friends, begin golfing again and "then see what's next."

After 32 years in education, 16 of those spent at South Milwaukee before moving to the Menomonee Falls School District, Heinowski is looking forward to trying something different, finding new opportunities and spending more time with his family.

"I feel very fortunate to have been at Shady Lane," he said. "I'm going to miss the people, the students, parents and staff. They've treated me very nicely."

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