Lawrence Free State High School's first and only principal, Joe Snyder, will retire at the end of the school year, Lawrence Superintendent Randy Weseman announced this afternoon.
Snyder has spent 17 years with Lawrence public schools, but he is perhaps best-known for being hired to open the city's second high school, after a bond issue was passed in the mid-1990s. Free State, 4700 Overland Drive, opened Aug. 21, 1997.
"My gratitude goes out to the Free State faculty and staff for what they do for the students and the community," Snyder said in a statement. "Free State High School is a very good school and one that I am proud of; the foundation is laid for years of success to come."
This is his 12th year as Free State's principal because Snyder spent a full year planning the school's opening. Before coming to Free State, he was principal at Turner High School in Kansas City, Kan. He had been a principal in Colorado and Kansas City, Mo.
"The city of Lawrence has two premier high schools," Weseman said. "I'm grateful for Dr. Snyder's outstanding leadership during a monumental time of transition for this community: Building and opening a second high school and establishing a tradition of excellence for student learning during its first 10 years."
Students and teachers have said Snyder is known for his professional manner. He also emphasizes academic achievement and supports extracurricular activities.
"He's very devoted to the school and is just one of the hardest workers. Nobody puts in more hours or time than he does," said Pam Bushouse, a retired Free State choral director.
The school district will immediately begin a principal search.