LAKEWOOD — On April 18, Dr. Dennis Haddock will mark the close of nine years with the Lakewood School District and 33 years in K-12 public education.
After serving as assistant superintendent of the Lakewood School District for three years, Haddock was selected to replace Larry Francois as superintendent in 2008.
Although Haddock had applied for the Marysville School District superintendent role that was left vacant by Dr. Larry Nyland last year, before Dr. Becky Berg was chosen to replace him, Haddock assured the community that he was not moving on to a new school district, but was instead simply moving on to greener pastures.
“Marysville was an opportunity I was interested in, but after that passed, I began contemplating retirement,” Haddock said. “The main reason I’m leaving before the end of the school year is to take advantage of the leave that I’ve accrued by scheduling some vacation time.”
In the meantime, Haddock expressed confidence in the stewardship of Dr. Michael Mack, director of student services and Career and Technical Education for the Lakewood School District, who is currently slated to serve as the interim superintendent through June 30.
“Mike knows the district and its buildings, so he’s a great choice,” Haddock said. “He’ll be able to help the new permanent superintendent transition into their role.”
When looking back on his own role, which began six years ago with a promise to build better partnerships with district parents, Haddock was quick to credit the Lakewood School District Board of Directors, school staff members and the surrounding community with contributing significantly to the successes that the district has enjoyed during his tenure.
“A lot of good initiatives were developed by all of us working collaboratively,” Haddock said. “Two to three years before the state had even mandated its instructional frameworks, we had already adopted one of those three frameworks. Our staff already had a great investment in working collaboratively before I came here, so I had the opportunity to support the practices that were in place.”
Haddock likewise lauded the Lakewood School District for fostering a culture centered on effective education, within which instructors examine their peers’ practices, as well as their own, in ways that Haddock sees as tying into the ongoing monitoring of student progress.
“Even with all the state mandates and state testing, our staff has never lost sight of the need to take care of the whole child, rather than just focusing single-mindedly on student achievement at all costs,” Haddock said. “There are all sorts of little things that school staff do every day, that have nothing to do with my leadership, that develop the character of these children by encouraging them to become creative learners who take risks, and I’m sure those practices will continue after I’m gone.”
When pressed to cite his own positive contributions to the district during his tenure as superintendent, Haddock described himself as a good listener who has worked with the district and consulted with specialists to garner resources for students.
“I look forward to seeing the continued growth of this district,” Haddock said. “As long as you listen carefully, the support of the community and the commitment of the staff makes this really not that tough of a job. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve worked in five other school districts, but I’ve appreciated the size and culture of Lakewood these past nine years. It allows a level of interconnectedness that you can’t just mandate. When you have a critical mass of committed and energized people, it makes for a good team environment. These people get engaged in their work, and I appreciate all of their contributions.”
Haddock has no immediate plans for retirement, but expects he’ll soon be recruited into a number of activities around the community.