Edwardsburg superintendent reflects on career after announcing retirement

Published 1:01 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — A longtime local educator will be saying goodbye to the world of lesson planning, curriculum crafting and student advising.

Edwardsburg Public Schools announced last week that Superintendent Jim Knoll will retire effective June 30 after 10 total years with the district in two stints. The district is in the process of conducting a search for his replacement.

Knoll said his decision to retire was based on multiple factors, including a desire to travel and spend time with family.

“My wife and I have some plans to do some traveling and see family and do some things,” he said. “In the last five years, it’s been kind of tough as a leader of any district for that matter. I think Edwardsburg is pretty special; it takes a lot out of you and I’m a little tired. It’s time for new leadership.”

A Niles native, Knoll has worked at Edwardsburg Public Schools for the past eight school years. From 2015 to 2017 he was the principal of Edwardsburg Middle School and was the assistant superintendent in 2018 before taking the superintendent reins in 2018 for Sherman Ostrander who was the district’s superintendent for more than 20 years. Knoll was also an assistant principal at Edwardsburg High School from 2002 to 2004.

Knoll’s career path originally did not include education. After working almost seven years at National Standard out of college for seven years in marketing and plant management roles, he returned to school to get his education degree. 

Prior to his time as an Eddie, Knoll was a longtime teacher and principal in the Niles Community Schools district and spent a few years working in Arizona.

“There was really no plan to be here,” Knoll said of his career path. “Even when I came back from Arizona, there was no plan to be the superintendent of Edwardsburg Schools. That just worked out that way and I’ve been very fortunate to have great people offer me good positions and it’s been wonderful here. We’ve got great people here.”

As a teacher, administrator and even a plant manager, Knoll recalled several highlight moments he experienced throughout his career, including Edwardsburg earning multiple Blue Ribbon achievements, the football team winning the 2018 state championship as well as being awarded a scholarship as a youth from National Standard where his father worked.

“That was a big part of getting me to National Standard and being able to stay in the area,” Knoll said. “It was a very nice award and I’m grateful to them because of that.”

Knoll is proud of the student success he has been able to shepherd during his time as an educator.

“When I was at Niles, our high school MEAP and ACT scores increased,” he said. “We were doing a really nice job. At Edwardsburg, it’s been the same thing. We’re one of the leading schools in the area for our scores and that’s what it’s all about. It’s about kids being successful and working with the community and family to make sure that it fits in with the goals and the aspirations of what the community is trying to do.”

While Knoll looks forward to retirement, he also looks forward to what the future holds for the district. As the saying goes, “Once an Eddie, always an Eddie.”

“Our community is deeply rooted in the education district here at Edwardsburg. They care about what happens with the community and what happens with the schools… We’ve had a couple of setbacks here, recently not being able to pass the bond and some things. Those are things we’ll have to look at for the future. Our community always looks at what the next step is and that’s how you have to look at education. What makes sense for our community and our students. That’s the focus you have to have.”