Thank you, Gary, for your leadership here

Published 3:34 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

By Staff
We're all going to miss Gary Rider, Brandywine's school superintendent, who is leaving the district to take a superintendent's position in the Grand Rapids area.
With his new job at the Thornapple-Kellogg district, Gary is for all practical purposes going home. Shame on us if we begrudge anyone the opportunity to move closer to family and to better their career. We've had him for three good years. Isn't that what everyone wants, to continue to advance in their career and to be able to live and work near family? If you're able to achieve both of those goals, hats off to you.
While his departure is unfortunate for Brandywine in the short term, we're all better off in the long term because his career path took him through Niles.
I knew pretty soon after he arrived that Gary would be one of those special people who come into our community and make us better. He certainly did that for Brandywine and he did that for the rest of Niles, too.
Unlike several who came before him, Gary set out from the get-go to build consensus and community. He surrounded himself with smart, hard-working people. He reached out to the community and broadened Brandywine's scope in doing so.
Gary quickly worked to unite a divided constituency - school board, faculty, staff and parents. He demonstrated tact and professionalism, which caused others in leadership positions to portray those qualities.
He introduced so many to Brandywine because of how involved he was in the community. I've been here for almost 18 years now and it's the first time I've seen a Brandywine superintendent take such a leadership role. I interacted with Gary because of the work I do at Leader Publications. However, I also enjoyed seeing him each week at Rotary. Our Rotary Club will lose our president-elect when Gary leaves Niles.
He reached out to business, civic and government leaders and recruited help in touting Brandywine schools. Brandywine benefited in many ways because of Gary's positive representation of it. Gary worked tirelessly on a number of causes and told the Brandywine story everywhere he went.
I hope the Brandywine board of education will seek to find someone for its top job who operates like Gary Rider does and who shares his philosophy about educating children and about taking an involved role in our community.
In fact, we hope that you seek Rider's advice and opinion during your hiring process. I'm certain he would be more than happy to help with that difficult search and decision.
I know Gary loves Niles. I know he loved living in Niles. What I know mostly is that he loves Brandywine and that's not going to stop just because he's moving a couple of hours up the road.
Who wants tickets to Notre Dame women's basketball games? I have four season tickets in some pretty good seats to Notre Dame's home women's basketball games. While I'm going to try to make it to a couple, I know I won't make it to many of them.
Notre Dame women are fun to watch play ball. The atmosphere among fans is great and they play a great schedule at the Joyce.
If you'd like four tickets to a game or know someone who would, please give me a call. I don't want them to go to waste. (269) 687-7700.