PAINESDALE - A lot changed from the time William Mannisto walked through the doors to take on the role as superintendent for Adams Township Schools to when Patrick Rozich left just days ago.
The four surviving superintendents, of just seven who have served the school district in the past 100 years, participated in the Superintendent's Round Table event Saturday as part of the Jeffers High School 2010 Centennial Graduation Celebration.
Representing 40 years of history with the districts, the superintendents - William Mannisto, Patrick Rozich, Dan Sternhagen and Paul Ollila - recounted their time in the position.
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
William Mannisto, at the podium and Paul Ollila, Patrick Rozich and Dan Sternhagen recount their time as Adams Township Schools superintendent. The men participated in the Superintendent’s Round Table event Saturday as part of the Jeffers High School 2010 Centennial Graduation Celebration.
The group was introduced by new superintendent Tim Keteri, who praised the men for their excellence through the years. First to share his story was Mannisto, who served from 1968 to 1981, coming in at a time of strikes, board members resigning and a school basically run by the mine. Mannisto came to the district, located in what was then a small mine town, in hopes of strengthening relationships as well as vocational and special education.
"I've worked well with these people; I've hired some of them, I've laid some of them off," Mannisto said when he took the podium. "But I brought you back."
Mannisto said the strike affected 700 kids; after he was brought in as a superintendent and a new board was voted in, operations with the district began to run smoothly.
Mannisto was mentor to the next superintendent, Rozich, who stepped in to fill the shoes from 1982 to 1999 and from 2006 to 2010.
Rozich was described as an ever-present figure who deeply cares for the students and had their best interests in mind. Rozich, who attended the school and graduated long before coming back to serve as superintendent, was in the position during the bumpy times of Proposal A in the late '80s and helped usher in an entire new era of technological learning.
"You can really depend on the staff here," he said. "There's no 'I,' it's a 'We.'"
Sternhagen was credited for his initiative to add on to the school, approving a state-of-the-art gymnasium and upgraded facilities. He was superintendent from 1999 to 2006.
"There are some things you do you never thought you'd have to do," he said of the possibility of a new school building.
Using the help of a federal loan, Sternhagen and the Board of Education were able to put aside money for various projects at the school.
Ollila, although only in the position for two months, was praised for supporting the district. At the end of the discussion, the superintendents were all asked what piece of advice they would give Keteri as he starts this journey.
Their suggestions: although there will be frustrations, look at what the kids need and do; do not be too hasty to make judgments; remember what you're here for; annd if you're not having fun, get out of the business.
Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at skukkonen@ mininggazette.com.