Longtime Tonganoxie principal resigns mid-year
Jerry Daskoski cites personal reasons for leaving elementary school, hopes to teach again
Citing the toll that being principal of one of Kansas' largest elementary schools has taken on him and his family, Jerry Daskoski resigned last week.
His resignation, which caught staff members by surprise, is effective at the end of this month, in just four days.
On Christmas Day, Daskoski returned to a quiet Tonganoxie Elementary School. He spent six hours there, boxing up personal belongings and writing a letter to elementary school staffers.
He said he will miss his former co-workers and students.
"There is very much a void right now in my life -- not being able to have those relationships, and that is the hardest part of all of this," Daskoski said during an interview Tuesday. "But again, I had to do what I felt was the right thing to do."
Daskoski, who described himself as a perfectionist, said he resigned because he was unable to leave his work concerns behind when he was at home. And as a result, he said, when he was with his family in Shawnee, he was consumed with thoughts of his work in Tonganoxie.
Daskoski, who is 54, began working as assistant principal at TES in fall 1991. Two years later, he was promoted to principal.
"My decision to resign was made just within the last week before Christmas break," he wrote in the letter he sent to school staff. "Yet, it was a decision that I had thought about for at least the last 10 to 12 years."
Daskoski provided a copy of that letter to The Mirror newspaper of Tonganoxie.
Daskoski said he wanted to continue working in education. However, he said he would prefer to teach rather than be an administrator.
Prior to starting as assistant principal at TES 16 years ago, Daskoski spent eight years teaching. He said he loved being in the classroom. And, he said, when he taught school, he was able to go home at night and be an attentive husband and father.
Superintendent Richard Erickson said he was grateful he had the opportunity to work with Daskoski.
"He's one of the best I've ever worked with," he said. "I just have nothing but good things to say about him."
Erickson also noted a particular challenge Daskoski had faced in recent years -- the district's increasing enrollment. Last fall, about 870 students in kindergarten through sixth grade attended classes at the elementary school.
"He's run one of the largest elementary schools in the state of Kansas," Erickson said of Daskoski. "He's run it very efficiently."
The district's new middle school will open next week. Fifth- through eighth-graders will attend school there, which means about 250 fewer students will be at the elementary school.
TES assistant principal Tammie George will be acting principal during the remainder of the year. Erickson said it was likely that next fall the school again would have two administrators.
"We're going to provide her with whatever assistance she needs," Erickson said. "It won't be easy, but she's a talented individual and I have every confidence she will be able to assume that job."
George, who has been assistant principal for seven years, was surprised when Daskoski told her he planned to resign.
"First I was shocked, then I was very sad to see him go," George said. "And I think once I got over the initial shock it was, OK let's get started on plans and what needs to happen to make sure the second semester runs smoothly."
George said she would miss Daskoski.
"I appreciate all the guidance and teaching that he did for me," George said.
Meanwhile, Daskoski is looking to his own future.
"I'm in no real hurry because I feel like I want to step carefully," Daskoski said. "I'm 99 percent sure that I want to teach."
He noted that since the holiday break began he and his wife had spent time together.
"It's just been a real renewal for us," he said. "Deciding what we'll do is something that we'll talk about together."
Daskoski said it seemed like his 16 years in Tonganoxie flew by. And it's that realization that's also made him take stock. As he looks back on his years as administrator, Daskoski said, he realized the heart and core of his work was that of trying to enrich students in their academic and personal lives.
"I love Tonganoxie, I love the school and love the people," Daskoski said.
The most difficult thing about resigning is that he's leaving behind friends.
"It's very sad," he said. "I miss and will miss everybody very, very much. But at the same time, I feel like I'm doing what's right for my family and for me."