There was hardly a dry eye to be found at the end of Thursday's school board meeting as Superintendent Ken Ramey announced his plans to retire on June 30 after a 52-year career in education.
Ramey grew emotional as he recounted his time serving Siloam Springs Schools and explained his decision to retire. Several school board and audience members also were moved to tears as the board reluctantly moved to accept his resignation.
Ramey has worked in the Siloam Springs School District for 27 years, first as the high school principal, then moving up to assistant superintendent before being hired as superintendent in 2001. In 2017, he was named State Superintendent of the Year by the Arkansas Association of Education Administrators.
"It has been my honor to serve as superintendent for the past 17 years and to work for the school district since the 1992-1993 school year," Ramey wrote in his resignation letter. "Siloam Springs is a strong, vibrant community with a caring 'can-do spirit.' The administrators, faculty and staff of the Siloam Springs School District are some of the best people that I know. I respect each of them highly and thank them sincerely for supporting the growth and development of all students.
"Here, student needs have always come first. Our mission, vision and values are at the heart of who we are in making a positive impact for students. Continually building trust, forming relationships and cultivating partnerships has allowed our school district to move forward. Parent and community support in booster clubs, adopters, parent teacher organization, millage campaigns, chamber events and scholarship programs has greatly enriched the lives of so many students for a better future."
Before he came to Siloam Springs, Ramey served as Lincoln High School principal and Prairie Grove Middle School principal, athletic director and head football coach. In total, he spent 29 years working in school administration.
"I love education," Ramey told school board members. "I've been working since I was nine years old. I don't know how to not work, but I'm going to start figuring it out.
"Siloam Springs has been a great place for me to work. It's a great community, it has so much for me to offer families and kids, and I get to work with the best people in the world."
School board president Brian Lamb, who has served on the board since 1998, said he took part in hiring Ramey as superintendent.
"I'm very proud of the accomplishment there," he said. "He has brought trust, honesty, transparency, everything, love for kids. (For Ramey) it's all about the kids, it's all about public education and moving it forward, and it's just been an honor and a pleasure to work with him."
Roger Holroyd, who formally announced his resignation from the board on Thursday, said he hated to be the one to make the motion to accept Ramey's resignation. Holroyd gave the board notice last month that Thursday would his last meeting since he has accepted a job as the president of Arvest's Fort Smith market.
"It's been amazing to watch Ken work with this community and not just run the school, but be an ambassador to this community in a way that has really just been masterful honestly," he said.
Holroyd said that Ramey made the school district well respected and an integral part of the community.
"That's going to be part of your legacy and as we talked tonight, it's going to be like following Bear Bryant at Alabama, for whoever takes this position," Holroyd said.
Board member Audra Farrell gave a tearful second to Holroyd's motion.
"You look at this leadership in this district and Ken, it's been your doing," said board member Connie Matchell, who also grew emotional.
Matchell, who is also the head of the teacher education department at John Brown University, retired from Siloam Springs School District in 2015 as the curriculum coordinator.
She said Ramey served as a mentor to her and gave her confidence to transition from teaching to administration. Looking across the room, it was evident the number of lives and careers Ramey has impacted, she said.
Travis Jackson, who was appointed to the board in August, said he first got to know Ramey when he worked to start a soccer organization in Siloam Springs in 1994.
"You made a real impact in my life and Monica's life," he said.
Ramey thanked the school board for their support and dedication, both during the meeting and in his resignation letter. He also thanked school staff, patrons, parents and the community for their support, noting that "wonderful things happen when we all work together as a team with a singular focus -- what is best for students."
"I began my career as a teacher and I believe that teachers are the heart of all school districts," he wrote. "Knowledge is power, and an educated person can change the world. Teachers make that happen. They are never paid what they deserve so we must value, respect and thank them often for the commitment they make to children. As I prepare to leave this role, I give my sincere best wishes to all of the employees, past and present, who have dedicated their lives to helping children grow into worthy adults.
"It has been my honor and privilege to serve the Siloam Springs School District and I will miss it dearly."
General News on 01/13/2019
Print Headline: Ramey announces plans to retire