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Principal Discusses Reasons Behind Sudden Resignation

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Glenwood Community High School Principal Shane Stephens made the difficult decision to step down from the position he has held for less than a year due to declining health issues, he said.

“My goal over the last 15 years has been to be a high school principal in Iowa and I did that,” Stephens said. “When I took over this job I thought it was the right job for me, however, over the course of the last two months there’s a combination of things. But the stress of the job is more than I thought it would be.

“I discussed it with my doctor and there were certain signs that had re-occurred and I decided I couldn’t go through with another year with my health getting worse.”

Stephens, 47, who was hired to replace Kerry Newman last April, has been on a heart monitor for the past month. In

March 2009 Stephens suffered a heart attack and a year later, a stroke.

Stephens submitted his letter of resignation to the Glenwood School Board in a special board meeting Monday, stating the decision was made with a “heavy heart yet clear mind.”

“I feel that the responsibilities and the enormity of the position is not what I thought it would be,” Stephens wrote. “I have come to realize that I have not met my own expectations or goals.”

Stephens specifically mentioned some of those goals.

“I wanted to increase pride for the school, raise the spirit of the student body and improve the overall school climate,” he wrote. “I have not been able to give all I have in those endeavors.”

In an interview Friday, Stephens cited the long hours and “enormous responsibility” of the job as contributors to his stress and declining health.

“If I was 10 years younger, a lot healthier, I’m sure I could do the job,” Stephens said. “And I can still do the job and do it effectively. But do I want to run the risk of not being around for my grandkids, not being around for my wife and my and sons and daughters? I had to decide which was more important for me, my job or my family.”

Stephens communicated to Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray in early March he planned to step down at the end of the school year. Stephens said the superintendent was surprised but “very supportive.”

“He understood,” Stephens said. “And I’ve been very supportive of making sure there’s a smooth transition. If I would have waited until the end of the year to announce this it would have been unethical of me. I’m under a two-year contract and this is a great job. This is one of the best jobs in the state of Iowa. A lot of people think I’m crazy for giving it up. But no job is worth my health.”

Stephens said he’s enjoyed his 11 months in Glenwood and hopes to continue working in education in some capacity.

“I’ve felt so blessed and welcomed and honored to be a part of this community and if I can find a different job that’s not as high stress in education in the local area, I would really love to stay and live in Glenwood. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be here.”

In an e-mail to parents announcing Stephens’ resignation, Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray thanked Stephens for his work, adding the district will pursue a replacement immediately.

“I want to express my gratitude and respect for Mr. Stephens and his leadership as the high school principal this year and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Embray stated.

Stephens will remain in the position through the end of the school year as the district seeks a permanent replacement.