MAPLE CITY — Glen Lake Community Schools owned its fair share of turmoil in the past two years.
A contract dispute. Unhappy teachers. A superintendent at the end of his rope who felt the only option was to resign. Four board members jumping ship soon after. A community left doubting.
The 2019-20 school year began in earnest for the Lakers last Tuesday. On board are a new superintendent, Jon Hoover, and four new trustees: Brooke Hazael-Massieux, Rick Schanhals, Leah Mosher and Jason Homa. They gathered Monday — along with Board President Lisa Siddall, Board Vice President Cory McNitt and board trustee Virginia Woessner — for the first time with class in session.
Bridges that were burned or in shambles were left to be either rebuilt or seriously repaired if the issues that dogged the district before were to be addressed. Apparently, Hoover rebuilt and repaired those quickly — at least according to those in the high school’s media center Monday.
“The day Jon started — literally the first day — he took care of 50 percent of the issues we had,” Siddall said. “By the next two weeks, it was a different place. That’s leadership, experience and passion. A passion for excellence, and a passion for kids.”
Before Sander Scott resigned as GLCS superintendent in June, he called Glen Lake a “school on the edge” and said the tensions between himself and the Glen Lake Federation of Teachers — built tenuously on “differing values and expectations” — left many in the district feeling stressed and undervalued. Then-GLFT President Jennifer Gretzmacher said the teachers considered Glen Lake a poor work environment with many staff members being disciplined more harshly than what was called for.
Just a few months later, Amber Turner, the new president of the GLFT, presented Hoover — whose nickname she revealed to be “the Love Bomb” — and the board members with a key chain that read “Refuse to sink.”
“The students and staff are very fortunate to have such a supportive and dedicated group of people guiding our school in a positive direction,” Turner said. “Thank you for refusing to let us sink.”
Mark Mattson, Glen Lake’s athletic director and assistant principal, continued to echo those sentiments in his presentation to the board, saying that Hoover’s enthusiasm has created a different Glen Lake than what had been experienced the previous years.
“The energy and the positivity and the electricity we feel in the air? That’s because he (Hoover) has this glaring thing about him that he’s going to take care of kids, he’s going to take care of staff, and we’re going to be dedicated to excellence,” Mattson said. “I’ve heard him say all of those things, and that’s what we have.”
Hoover appreciated the kind words, but he did his best to deflect them toward other people.
When Hoover first came on the job and spoke with members of the student council and other Glen Lake students, Hoover said he asked how they felt about being a Glen Lake Laker. Many weren’t sure how they felt. He said that’s when he knew he needed to effect change in the district.
“Being a Glen Lake Laker should mean something,” Hoover said.
Woessner, who worked for the district for 16 years before beginning her service on the board in January, said a year’s worth of work has been done since Hoover was hired.
“I was more proud of the opening of this school year than any prior in my Glen Lake experience,” she said. “I am grateful to Jon. I am grateful to the board members that are new, who had the courage to put their names in the hat. ... I am grateful to the GLFT and everything that they have done.”
Hoover’s goal now is to keep the ship steaming ahead.
“We are a family, and Glen Lake will never go back to be anything other than a family,” he said. “That’s a promise I can make.”