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Esala leaves principal's office for classroom

Greg Esala, New York Mills Elementary School Principal, is doing some housekeeping in his office this summer as he prepares to leave his job as principal and likely take on the Early Intervention Reading program at the school in 2009-10.

After 11 years as New York Mills Elementary School principal Greg Esala wanted a change. Esala requested reassignment from the principal's office back to teaching. He won't be going far and will remain on the school's elementary end, most likely as the Early Intervention Reading specialist. The school board approved the request Monday.

"The New York Mills school system is a great one and I love being a part of it!," Esala wrote the board members in informing them he was requesting a change within the district. "You should know that I have considered such a move for a few years and now the window of opportunity is here."

Esala made it clear he would have never made the move back to teaching if it would have displaced a current teacher. The opening came when Carol Wilkowski, who was the EIR instructor, retired this month. Esala saw that retirement as the opportunity he was looking for to get back into teaching, and more closely working with the kids.

"Please understand that I make this change on my own," Esala told the board. "I have had no pressure from any board members, community members, administrators, or other members of the school staff. All of those listed have supported me throughout my time as elementary principal."

Esala reiterated that the move has nothing to do with previous budget cut talks, which brought up at the time the possibility of the elementary principal position being eliminated. Although, Esala's move back to the classroom will save the district money in salary (about $23,000), he insists this is a personal decision.

"At this point in my life, I need to consider my family commitments, my personal health, and of course, my interest in helping our students succeed," he said. "I look forward to the change and the new challenges."

The board on Monday approved the reassignment and Esala stated he will be available to assist the district in the preparations for next school year.

The board has scheduled a workshop for Monday, June 29 to discuss the options of what to do with the open principal position.

Esala has been elementary school principal since 1998. Starting in 1980, he has taught in Perham, Menahga, New York Mills, and Richfield.

(More on the school board in next week's Herald.)