Farewell for two Dowagiac principalsPublished 6:03pm Thursday, May 31, 2012
The school year is quickly winding down, bringing with it the warm summer months and fond farewells to two Dowagiac Union Schools principals: Paul Hartsig of Union High School and Mike Frazier of Dowagiac Middle School.
For several years, Hartsig and Frazier have become community and education staples in Dowagiac, serving as principals in their respective schools. Hartsig has been seen through the halls of Dowagiac Union High School (DUHS) for 17 years, serving as the school’s principal for the past eight of those years. Frazier took on principal duties at Dowagiac Middle School (DMS) nine years ago, serving as co-principal with Matt Severin for the last two. Now that the school year’s end is fast approaching, Hartsig will take over as principal at Bridgman High School in Bridgman, and Frazier will retire.
“It was a difficult choice (to leave),” Hartsig said Thursday amid end-of-the-year duties. “I had begun thinking about it back in August or September.”
Frazier also struggled with the decision to retire, but thanks to a retirement seminar and a little help from his wife, he decided to move forward with it.
“It turned out to be more advantageous for me to retire this year than to wait another year,” Frazier said.
One thing Frazier and Hartsig didn’t waver on, however, was that they both knew they were ready for the change; Dowagiac schools were also ready.
“Change is inevitable,” Severin said of the transition DMS will undergo from two principals to one next year. “I’m glad we (Frazier and I) had the two years that we did to prepare and plan.”
Hartsig said he was ready for his change, also.
“I was ready to move forward and have a change of scenery,” Hartsig said. “But I love the kids, the parents and the staff here in Dowagiac. I’ve got no complaints.”
Currently, successors for both schools have not been decided upon. According to Hartsig, the school district is accepting applications for a new principal until mid-June. The decision will be made by Aug. 13.
“It’s been tricky, getting knowledge about Bridgman and being focused here, but my complete and utter focus is Dowagiac right now,” Hartsig said.
Frazier said no decisions have been made on who will be DMS’s principal next year but that Severin is the right fit for the position.
“He’s got all the pieces you need as a principal,” Frazier said. “We also have an amazing support staff that is a part of the school’s culture.”
Both principals said one thing that won’t change after the school year ends is their address; they both will be staying in the Dowagiac community.
“I always try to be active in the community, and I’m going to stay here,” Hartsig said.
Frazier agreed, saying he plans to continue serving on the Fitch Camp board.
“I’m going to let it sit for a year and see what retirement is like,” Frazier said. “I’m not going to snow-bird to Florida or anything like that.”
Between finding time for ice fishing and a few possible hiking trips with Severin, Frazier said he will miss the students the most.
“I started out in this (field) 15 years ago,” Frazier said. “I was always able to get something out of working hands-on with the kids.”
Hartsig said he is happy with the solid foundation DUHS is building upon and that helped him make his decision.
“We’re moving in the right direction so I feel OK about leaving,” Hartsig said.