The sudden retirement of Harrison County Schools Superintendent Robert Kittle drew a surprised reaction as well as praise from Board of Education members, teachers and school administrators.
"I would say he was a very aggressive superintendent. He was constantly pushing new programs," said Wilson Currey, a member of the board of education. "He was a pusher and a driver and I mean that as a compliment."
Curry said Kittle deserves credit for helping the school system deal with a decrease in enrollment during the last decade without laying off teachers through Reduction in Force.
"We were able to do it through attrition. That took a lot of planning by the county office staff and a lot of leadership from Kittle," Currey said.
Currey was a principal during the 1980s, when a steep drop in student enrollment forced several school closings and consolidations in the county. He said Kittle helped the schools system through that period.
"Pulling communities together for consolidations is always traumatic and he was able to do that," Currey said.
Currey added that Kittle will assist whoever replaces him during a phase-out period. He also said he is hopeful Kittle will provide consulting services to the board for School Building Authority projects and lobbying the Legislature.
Carol Curotz, a third grade teacher at Wilsonburg Elementary, said she was surprised to hear of Kittle's retirement.
"I think our county schools are among the most noted in the state," Curotz said. "I think a lot of it is due to Mr. Kittle."
Curotz cited academic programs such as bridges, as well as the fact the school system was implementing a county-wide violence prevention program in elementaries before the Columbine incident.
Joan Smith, director of United Technical Center, said she was dismayed Kittle will be retiring.
"His heart was in it. He was a good friend to education and a good friend to vocational education," Smith said. "I think it will be hard to fill his shoes."