||VCMS principal, assistant resign
By Chris Strunk
Last Updated: April 20, 2017
The principal and assistant principal at Valley Center Middle School have resigned after just one year in their positions.
Greg Mittman, principal, and Ron Barry, assistant principal and athletic director, submitted their resignations during the past week.
Both are staying in education, but not in Valley Center.
Mittman will be director of the Sedgwick County Educational Cooperative's Interlocal Learning Center, while Barry will join the Halstead school district as principal of the middle school.
"It is a loss for our district and the leadership team," Superintendent Cory Gibson said.
Both are leaving on good terms with the district, Gibson said.
"Absolutely," he said. "… I think both will flourish."
Mittman said his decision to leave the district has been difficult.
"This has been tough. The timing is terrible," Mittman said. "I've only been here (at the middle school) for a year, and it's been a great year. ... I would love to continue here and up until right before spring break, I had every intention of coming back."
Mittman, an Ark City native, came to the Valley Center district in 1995 to teach special education classes at the middle school.
From 2001 to 2006, Mittman taught social studies at the middle school. In 2004, he was a finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year.
Mittman's teaching career was interrupted when he was deployed to Iraq with the Kansas Army National Guard.
Mittman retired in 2013 as a lieutenant colonel after a 28-year career with the Guard.
When he returned, Mittman became the school district's technology integration specialist, which he did for about a half a year. Mittman left again to attend a National Guard leadership training college for a year. During that time, Mittman took classes for a school administration degree.
After a deployment to Africa, Mittman returned and became assistant principal at the high school when it opened in 2011. He stayed there for five years and then became principal at the middle school.
In Mittman's new position, he will lead a new program, combining into one facility a variety of services for students with mental and social disabilities.
"I've always had an affinity for kids who, I'll say, are less fortunate, have a higher need, kids who don't color inside the lines, maybe," Mittman said.
Barry said he didn't know the Valley Center principal position would be available when he accepted the job in Halstead. He said he is happy with how things turned out for him, however.
"There weren't necessarily two positions open at the same time," Barry said. "Halstead is somewhere I want to work and it is somewhere I would grow."
Barry said while Valley Center is "like my second home," Halstead "feels like home, too."
Barry's wife, Amy, grew up in Halstead, and her parents live there.
"When the opportunity arose, it was definitely interesting to me," Barry said.
Barry was a finalist for the same position two years ago. He said when it became available, he applied again.
Halstead Middle School has fourth through eighth grades. It also includes the district's pre-kindergarten program.
Barry, who holds a master's degree, is working on a doctorate and hopes to be finished by next May.
Barry joined the Valley Center school district in 2008 as a social studies teacher at the high school. He coached football and middle school basketball over the years.
In 2013, he became high school athletic director and assistant principal.
He was named middle school assistant principal in 2016.
Barry and his wife have two children, Taryn, 8, and Brett, 5.
Barry said leaving Valley Center after nine years will be "bittersweet."
"I've been able to grow as a teacher and an administrator," he said. "The people here have an impact on my development. The relationships with people are what make Valley Center so special. It was a tough decision, but it is good for me and my family, too."
Gibson said when the district received Barry's resignation notice, it began advertising the open position.
After Mittman resigned a few days later, Barry's position was put on hold while the district seeks a principal, who will have input on who becomes the assistant.
The district surveyed middle school staff to determine criteria for the next principal. The position will be opened for internal staff for a short period to determine if a current employee is interested and qualified. It will then be advertised to the public.