Michael Mack, Superintendent of the Lakewood School District, announced recently that he is leaving the district at the end of the school year.
Mack has been the superintendent of Lakewood schools since 2014, and he’s served in the district for 11 years, including as the director of career and technical education.
“I’m having a really difficult time leaving Lakewood. It’s home and all my kids graduated and went to school here,” he said.
He said he has enjoyed his time working in the district.
“I’ve had the best career of anybody. There’s never been a day when I didn’t want to come to work,” he said.
Working to improve student’s lives has made his job enjoyable, said Mack.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction when you work to help provide an environment that kids can flourish in,” he said.
“I’ve known most of these kids from early on in their grade school years and watching them grow up into good responsible adults has been the most fun,” he said.
Those efforts to improve students' lives is what he said he is most proud to have worked on.
“What I’m most proud of is providing an environment where we have a lot of students that aren’t from our community that variance in,” said Mack.
A ‘variance’ is a student that chooses to attend a district they doesn’t live in, and Lakewood has more students who opt in rather than opt out, often a healthy sign for a district’s schools.
“What that says is that the kids like us,” said Mack.
Mack is also happy that graduation rates have continued to climb and have gotten up to 92 percent while he was superintendent.
“That was a real accomplishment for the school district and the students,” he said.
The new Lakewood High School was also constructed and finished with Mack leading the district.
“I built a high school, and that’s great and I’m proud of that, but that’s a building. What I’m really proud of is the kids learning, the staff, and the good work that goes on,” he said.
Mack is leaving to serve as a superintendent in the International Schools Group in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabia school service expatriate students, often the kids of embassy employees or oil company workers.
“They don’t go to the local Saudi schools because they don’t speak the language, so there is an international school there for them,” said Mack.
He was previously the superintendent for the International School of Latvia before coming to Lakewood.
Mack said that he wanted to teach internationally at least once more before his career is over, which motivated his decision to accept the Saudi Arabia job.
“I’m 60 and I won’t have many more chances to do something like this,” he said. “After a couple of visits and some conversations we agreed it would be a good match."
With six schools and about 4,000 students the Saudi Arabia school group is about the same size as Lakewood’s district.
He said he looks forward to living abroad again.
“It will be a culture shock. It will be different, and it be good to represent America, learn their culture and help the international kids,” he said.
He said he will miss Lakewood and the community.
“I will miss everything. I will miss walking down the halls and having kids that maybe don’t know me personally but engaging in conversations with me,” he said.
The school board, school staff and other community leaders are set to keep up the current work of the school, said Mack.
“I’m confident in knowing that it isn’t about me, it’s about us and the work will go on,” he said.
“I just really respect the work the community has done for it’s kids. It’s about us and we. I’m appreciative of their trust in me and the faith they placed in me in creating an environment for their kids,” he said.
The Lakewood School Board of Directors plans to work with the community in the search for the next superintendent over the next few months.