By CRISTINA JANNEY
VICTORIA — Victoria USD 432 has hired Kent Michel as its new superintendent.
Michel, who is the principal for grades three through five in Atchison, will take over July 1 for David Ottley, who is retiring. Michel will also be the principal at the elementary school.
Michel, 53, is a native of Russell and has been an educator for 25 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from Washburn University, his master’s degree from Fort Hays State University and will complete his district leadership license through FHSU this summer.
Michel’s teaching career has focused on elementary to middle school students.
He taught seventh- and eighth-grade science in Carbondale. He taught three years in California where he had fourth-grade classes with as many as 32 students. He returned to Kansas where he taught fifth grade for five years in Russell. He then taught seventh and eighth grade math in Russell and then worked as an elementary administrator.
He has spent the last four years as an administrator in Atchison, working in a building with about 900 students.
Although Michel said he has enjoyed his work in Atchison, he really missed western Kansas.
“I moved out here, and it has been a good experience,” he said. “I have learned a lot about curriculum and instruction. I missed western Kansas. When I lived in California, I would drive through Death Valley and people lived in Needles, Calif., and I would ask why anyone would want to live there. I grew up in western Kansas, and I really missed it. I missed the people, the land, the weather. I know a lot of people don’t like the weather, but it is just one of those things that gets in your blood.”
Michel has a goal to work on curriculum and instruction but said he has lots to learn about the district when he starts in July.
“I know I have some big shoes to fill in Dave Ottley. Dave is just a great guy and was a great superintendent,” Michel said. “I know I will have a lot to learn, and the learning curve will be steep, but I think I will be able to handle that.”
Michel’s wife, Charlotte, is also an educator and will be working in Effingham in the fall. He has two grown children. His youngest is a student a Washburn.
“I am looking forward to coming out that direction and spending my career. I don’t look at leaving western Kansas again,” he said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Victoria and make it the best place we can make it.”