Mike McElrath, principal of Persell Middle School in Jamestown and a longtime district employee, is ready for retirement.
McElrath has been in teaching for 30 years, returning to Jamestown after also growing up in the area.
“I feel like I’m ready to retire and open a new chapter in my life” McElrath said. “My wife is also retiring so we are looking forward to spending six months in the Carolinas and then six months in Jamestown. I also hope to improve my golf game and travel. I will miss the people I work with and the contact with I will miss the students.I will not miss the long hours and ever-changing assignments.
Kim Barber, an AP earth and environmental science teacher at Jamestown High School, described McElrath as someone who always sought to improve the school he was in.
“I have known him for more than 20 years” Barber said. “He was a counselor at Jamestown High School when I was a teacher, then later he was superintendent of the building I worked in. He is a very focused man who can look at all aspects of improving the school system and is always willing to try something new.”
Barber added that McElrath is leading by example.
“He is always ready to listen” Barber said. “He never has instinctive reactions. It takes into account all your thoughts and comments. He is a great boss and I will miss him.
Barber said it would be hard to find a school event McElrath didn’t attend that he gave “110%” at Jamestown Public Schools.
“He leaves big shoes to fill” Barber said. “He came back and gave everything he could to the community he grew up in and loved, and he was able to do that because he left and saw something new and then came back. .”
During his tenure at Jamestown, McElrath served seven years as School Counselor Coordinator, five years as Middle School Principal, eight years as Principal of Jamestown High School, one year as Principal of Success Academy before it closed, then two years as director. from Persell College.
District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker described McElrath as a kind person.
“I’ve known Mike for the two years I’ve worked here,” said Whitaker. “My impression of Mike is that he is a kind and caring person – someone who wants to make a difference in the lives of children and who really wants everyone to be happy and to lead fulfilling lives. I believe that everyone who have made the personal decision that it is time to retire should do so.
He added, “Those who have dedicated decades of service should be honored for that service and their selflessness, and celebrated for their accomplishments in impacting the lives of others. Mike is a person with a lot of love in his heart and a great desire to take care of children. I wish him the best for his retirement. »
Annika Putney, a fifth-grade teacher at Persell Middle School, also knew McElrath through her previous positions.
“(McElrath) has been a manager here at Persell for only two years,” said Putney. “However, I had worked with him in previous years when he was Director of Middle Years Education for Jamestown Schools and helped us transition through different types of team situations.
Putney added that McElrath is known for his calm personality which has become an asset over the past two years trying to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(McElrath) is the most patient, easy-going guy I know,” said Putney. “He doesn’t let his feathers ruffle much. His calm demeanor has been well received over the past two very trying years in teaching. He has always worked with us to resolve various situations and issues that arose with our students and grade level work. This school year, he has been a strong supporter and supporter of the return of fifth and sixth grade teams and advocated for the value of this for our students.
Putney is delighted that McElrath is having a restful retirement and noted that he has impacted many people during his time in education.
“While I will miss (McElrath) and his leadership style, I am also very excited for him,” said Putney. “He has served Jamestown students and staff in many capacities over the years and deserves a restful and relaxing retirement. When we came together for (McElrath’s) retirement celebration, there was such a diverse group of attendees from the different places he had worked. Obviously, his current staff at Persell came to recognize this milestone, but so many others came because their lives and careers were impacted by (McElrath). Some came who had worked in guidance with him; some came from the central administration; some from Success Academy where he had been principal; and many came from JHS where he spent many years of his career. The rally showed how much he was loved and how many people he really impacted.
Tina Sandstrom, superintendent of schools, said she felt lucky in her relationship with McElrath because she also got to experience him as a parent of children who went to Jamestown High School.
“I worked with (McElrath) for over 20 years,” says Sandstrom. “I’m really lucky because I worked with him as a colleague, then I knew him as a director when my children were in secondary school. We think the world of him. He touched and impacted thousands of students and families during his time.
Sandstrom said one of the most remarkable things about McElrath is her ability to connect with her students.
“You can ask any of his students and they’ll tell you how much he connected with them,” says Sandstrom. “He not only bonded with them, but also with the families and his staff. He will be truly missed, but we wish him a happy retirement.
More than anything, McElrath has earned a lot of respect during his time in education.
“I am happy that my two children had him as a director”, says Sandstrom. “Everyone speaks very well of him. He is highly respected. He will be greatly missed.”