Stokes County Superintendent of School Ronnie Mendenhall announced Tuesday that he would be retiring from his post, with his last day scheduled for Jan. 29, 2016.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students, parents, and fellow employees for the past 36 years,” he said in his resignation letter to the school board. “I would like to thank the Board of Education for the opportunity given me as Superintendent of the Stokes County School System. I wish for the continued success for the Stokes County School System.”
Mendenhall’s current contract was set to expire on June 30, 2016, and the school board had not yet discussed whether or not to renew the contract.
Stokes County Schools Director of Personnel Melissa Jessup said the board had not yet taken any action to begin a search for a new superintendent.
School Board Chair Sonya Cox said the board would begin discussion about how to fill the position in September or October.
“The decision we have to make is do we want to have someone in place on Feb.1 or do we want to fill in with an interim until the end of the school year,” she said.
In an email to all school staff, the school board thanked Mendenhall for his service to the system.
“His unwavering commitment to our students and employees and his love for Stokes County will always be remembered,” reads the email. “The Board wishes for Mr. Mendenhall and his wife, Lindy much happiness as they move forward in the next chapter of their lives. Hopefully, Mr. Mendenhall will have more time with retirement to relax and enjoy children and grandchildren.”
Cox said Mendenhall was leaving big shoes to fill.
“He has always shown his dedication to our county and out students,” she said. “Everything he has done has been student oriented and school oriented. I appreciate his invaluable service. He has been a dedicated employee to our system. He has come through the ranks and has held about every position possible.”
Mendenhall started his career in Stokes County as a student, attending South Stokes High School in the early 1970s where he excelled in baseball and wrestling.
He returned to Stokes County after graduating college to teach and coach at Southeastern Stokes Middle School.
“I was very blessed to have had many outstanding athletes at Southeastern,” he said, noting that he continued his coaching career at South Stokes until he was offered an administrative position. “I had to decide if I wanted to continue the rest of my career as a teacher coach or go into administration. It was on of the toughest decision I have ever had to make, but I felt if I went into administration I would be bale to reach more student’s lives and have a greater impact.”
Mendenhall served as principal or assistant principal at a variety of schools in the county for 16 years before applying for the superintendent’s position.
“It was the same mindset in terms of how many student’s lives I could impact,” he said. “Now the next step would be that I would have an opportunity to impact the lives of all the children in Stokes County.”
In May Mendenhall was named to serve a four year term on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association board of directors representing all 1-A schools in Region 5.
“I never dreamed I would be a principal , but I did that for 13 years,” he said. “I never dreamed I would be superintendent of the school system, now this appointment to the NCHSAA board of directors is the last thing that fulfills my career.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.