Randy Weseman held many positions in his 33 years working for Lawrence public schools.
1976: Joins the district as a high school history, economics and government teacher.
1979-1984: Teaches social studies at Central Junior High and also coaches football, basketball and track.
1984-1990: Joins administration as assistant principal at West Junior High.
1990-1994: Serves as principal of South Junior High.
1994: Joins district administration as division director of curriculum.
1995-2000: Serves as assistant superintendent.
July 1, 2000: Appointed interim superintendent.
Oct. 23, 2000: School board approves Weseman as superintendent.
Aug. 28, 2008: Announces retirement, effective June 30, 2009.
When Randy Weseman was a boy growing up in the western Kansas town of Dighton, he always saw himself living in Lawrence. It was a calling, he said. But he didn't imagine himself as an educator.
"I thought I'd be playing guitar at the Red Dog Inn," he mused to a gathering of teachers and administrators.
And while he may have played a few gigs here and there, Weseman, who announced his retirement as district superintendent Thursday, ended up spending 33 years in Lawrence public schools.
"This is the only school district I ever wanted to work in, and this is the only school district I ever will work in," he said.
Weseman is in the final year of a three-year contract. He will retire effective June 30, by which point the school board hopes to have a replacement.
Search for replacement
School board president Craig Grant said the board would likely implement a national search to find a new superintendent, beginning next month.
"It's going to be difficult to find somebody with the qualities we need to lead us on, but that's what we're going to be doing," Grant said, adding that the next superintendent probably "will not come from within."
Weseman spent his entire career in Lawrence, beginning as a student teacher. He began serving as superintendent in 2000, following stints as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, curriculum director and assistant superintendent.
'No better place'
"I've always said that I would begin and end my career in public education in the Lawrence public schools. There is no better place to be," Weseman said.
He was named interim superintendent on July 1, 2000, following the resignation of Kathleen Williams, who accepted a position in Chicago after two contentious years on the job.
He oversaw budget cuts and layoffs, academic score improvements and technological advances. He even offered to resign following criticism of his six-figure salary in 2003.
Weseman, 59, said the time was right to retire. He said he had been thinking of retirement for about a year and had informed the board of his plans in early August.
Praise for results
Weseman's peers complimented him as a competent administrator and a dedicated educator.
"This is the leadership of an administrator with really a personal investment in our school district," Grant said. "The community shouldn't underestimate what it takes to lead this school district."
"Randy's been really masterful at understanding our budget and identifying for the board possibilities to consider," said school board member John Mitchell. He cited instances this past year where Weseman helped work the budget to reduce the mill levy and facilitate a raise for teachers.
Grant said Weseman's oversight in improving student scores and bringing prestige to the district would be missed.
He cited a 2005 $63 million bond issue to improve facilities and technology, this spring's local-option budget, the implementation of eight full-day kindergarten classes, the expansion of English as a Second Language programs and teacher professional development as some of Weseman's successes.
As Weseman worked to improve education in the district, he never lost sight of why he became an educator. While high test scores and the leadership of teachers always pleased him, nothing stood out more than commencement.
"For me, it's always at the end of year when I see those kids graduate," he said.
He praised teachers and said collaboration was the way to make a difference.
"None of us, individually, can make anything happen," he said. "But, collectively, we make great things happen."