School Board Hears From Parents Who Don't Want Activities Director To Leave Glenwood
An overflow crowd of parents, students and community members were on hand at last week’s meeting of the Glenwood Board of Education to show their appreciation for Glenwood Community High School Activities Director Jeff Bissen and to encourage the board to “do whatever it can” to keep Bissen from leaving the district for another position.
Parent Jon Carlo read a letter to the board on behalf of “concerned parents, students and community leaders” who see Bissen as an attractive candidate for other school districts.
“Mr. Bissen is an outstanding activities director and goes above and beyond every single day for our student athletes, band members and youth in this community,” Carlo said. “Our school district would be devastated to lose him.
“Jeff Bissen has a huge presence in our community. He loves our community and gives our school a competitive advantage over all the surrounding schools.”
Carlo said Bissen is one of the top activity directors in the state of Iowa and praised him for his leadership and the sense of pride he’s created for the school district.
Another member of the audience, DeEtte VonEssen, shared similar thoughts about Bissen, noting that he’s received state and national recognition for his work at GCHS.
“You don’t get that athletic director of the year without doing your job and doing it well,” VonEssen said.
In 2020, Bissen was named one of eight finalists for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Athletic Director of the Year. He was the lone finalist from Iowa. Bissen won the Iowa High School Athletic Director Association Activities Director of the Year for Southwest Iowa in 2017, the same year he was honored as the Southwest Iowa Wrestling Athletic Director of the year by the Wrestling Coaches Association. In 2016, the Iowa Girls Coaches Association awarded him its Basketball Administrator of the Year Award.
VonEssen noted that in addition to his administrative duties, Bissen is also doing some coaching within the district.
Carlo requested that each school board member reach out to Bissen personally and that he be “compensated appropriately and continue to be allowed to coach where he has an impact on children.”
The concern about Bissen leaving Glenwood apparently stems from the March 10 announcement that Harlan Community Athletic Director Davis Pattee is leaving his current post for a new position. Both Bissen and his wife are Harlan natives and have family residing in the Harlan community.
Contacted late last week, Bissen said he has not received any offers or inquiries from other school districts and has not pursued other positions - in or outside of education.
He also addressed his family ties to Harlan and the pending vacancy in the athletic director position at HCHS.
“Harlan is my wife and I’s hometown and we have family that remain in that area, including both of our parents,” he said. “Those ties alone make it impossible to not consider.”
Bissen, who was not in attendance at the school board meeting, said he did have “good conversations” last week with school district officials regarding his future, but did not elaborate on the details of those discussions.
Bissen was asked if the turnout of supporters at last week’s school board meeting would impact any decisions regarding his professional career or future in Glenwood.
“Since coming to Glenwood 12 years ago, we have built many meaningful relationships with people in the district and the community so their words are impactful,” he said. “The appreciation is mutual as many have impacted GCSD’s activities in ways that have provided amazing experiences for students, and frankly, made my work easier many times. I would be amiss to think it wouldn’t have an impact on us if another opportunity was presented to us.”