Essex School District will be missing two familiar faces in the hallway next fall as the 2023-24 school year gets underway.
At the May 17 school board meeting, board members approved two resignations. Longtime instructor Kerry McBride, Title I, submitted her resignation after working in the district for 18 years, and building principal Robert Brecht also resigned, after a run of 13 years.
McBride first started at Essex in 2004 and worked for eight years in the Title 1 room before teaching second grade and first grade for a few years each, and then returning to the Title I position. She took an early retirement two years ago and then found herself in the classroom again as the Title I instructor. McBride told the board that it was a very difficult decision, but she was very interested in coming back as a substitute teacher in the future.
“I’m really going to miss seeing the students every single day,” she admitted. “We’ve become like a family here. I’m definitely going to miss all my co-workers. We are like a bunch of brothers and sisters who work together. We’re a team and we really enjoy one another’s company.”
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McBride said the most difficult part has been this week when several of her students came to her in tears after finding out about her retirement.
McBride said she knows of a few things she will be doing in retirement to keep herself busy.
“I plan to help out with my folks who live in Nebraska and spend more time with my granddaughters. I want to read books that I’ve been wanting to read and also plan to travel with my husband,” she said.
The daily schedule will be a challenge for McBride but she is ready to enjoy the new chapter in her life.
“I’m a little bit nervous about how I’m going to spend my time because I’m such a schedule person,” she said. “I’m really going to miss having that daily schedule, but I am pretty sure I can adjust.”
Brecht was hired in 2010 and since that time he has worn several hats.
“I’ve been the athletic director, special education director, coach, and I have been teaching a class one day a week. You get spread pretty thin sometimes, but that is what has made this job fun. Every day flies by,” he said.
Webster City Middle School will be the beneficiary of Brecht’s talents.
“I’ll be right by where I grew up. It’s a larger school, but it will be so much closer to family,” he said. “And, middle school is my wheelhouse. It’s where I am probably most comfortable.”
Brecht taught and coached in Riverside at the middle school for 10 years prior to coming to Essex.
“This school gave me an opportunity because I didn’t really want to leave Riverside. I was really happy there,” he said. “I applied because I heard such good things about the school through Allen Stuart. Then I applied when he was retiring. They gave me an opportunity, and I’ve had the privilege to work with a great bunch of people.”
Brecht said it is hard to leave, and it’s been an emotional week especially when his athletes start asking him about his resignation. He will definitely miss the coaching, he said, but mostly the relationships he has built with people.
“There are just a lot of good people in Essex, 13 years is a long time,” he said. “We’ve built a great team here. There’s a lot of good leadership and there are many innovative activities we’re doing in Essex. One thing I’ve learned is empowering the teachers. I can lead out front when I need to, I can go alongside the teachers and do it with them or I can sit back and watch them do the leading. We have great teachers and staff. They’re running the show right now — they won’t miss a beat without me.”
McBride was not at the board meeting, but Superintendent Mike Wells said, “She is one of the most dedicated and compassionate teachers I’ve ever worked with. Her love for children and her tireless work habits have helped Essex to be one of the highest performing schools in Iowa. We will miss her professionalism, her kindness and her friendship next year.”
Wells thanked Brecht for his work the past 13 years.
“He has done an amazing job. The big thing about Mr. Brecht is his concentration on academics,” Wells said. “When you see the test scores, we are there because of his effort. I know teachers have a huge part in that, but having a leader who focuses on that, you’re going to miss that. We will miss his relationship building, his leadership and his presence in our building.”