By Lynn Kutter
PRAIRIE GROVE -- The new assistant superintendent for Prairie Grove School District is a "win" for the school, according to Allen Williams, superintendent.
In a special meeting last week, Prairie Grove School Board voted to hire Springdale High School Principal Pete Joenks as the district's new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
Joenks will replace Leslie Sharp, who has been with the district for only one year. She submitted a letter of resignation in April, effective June 30. Prior to Prairie Grove, Sharp was principal at Northside Elementary School in Fort Smith.
Joenks' contract will start with Prairie Grove on July 1.
"I feel like that's a really big win for us for him to come on board," Williams said Thursday. "In my 30-year career, he's one of the top educators I've ever been around. Honestly, I was kinda a little bit shocked he was ready to leave Springdale."
According to Joenks' resume, he has been with Springdale School District for 27 years, since 1991. Joenks started as a science teacher in Gentry in 1988 before moving to teach at Central Junior High School in Springdale in 1991.
He taught chemistry and physics at Springdale High School from 1995 to 2004 and became assistant principal at George Junior High School in 2004.
One year later, Joenks returned to Springdale High School as assistant principal. Williams, at the time, was the principal at the school and said he recommended Joenks for the job.
Joenks has served as Springdale High's principal since 2010.
Prairie Grove received about 15 applications for the position and three candidates were brought in for interviews with a committee of school principals and teachers.
Williams said he encouraged Joenks to apply for the position but also encouraged some others to apply.
"Some did and some didn't," he said.
Williams said he thinks Joenks applied for the central office position because he was "ready to spread his wings" and try something different.
"I think we caught Pete at the right time in his career," Williams said. "He wanted to take a chance and work on a more district level role."
Joenks on Thursday said leaving Springdale for Prairie Grove is a "bittersweet thing." He grew up in Springdale, graduated from Springdale and said he has been "blessed" to teach and be in leadership positions with the school district.
Joenks said he wasn't looking for a position but it came up and when he looked at it, he thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from the administration at Prairie Grove School District.
"If I was going to do this, I thought what a great opportunity this would be," Joenks said.
Joenks will take a pay cut to work at Prairie Grove. He was making around $120,000 in Springdale. According to Prairie Grove's salary schedule, he will earn $89,026.
"You don't get into education for the money," Joenks said, though acknowledging financially he is in a good situation to be able to go to Prairie Grove.
He's in education, he said, because of the kids, the parents and the community.
"Yes, my salary will go down some but I'm looking at it from the point I'll get to work with the educators at Prairie Grove."
Joenks will not move to Prairie Grove but noted he'll be around a lot. He plans to attend ballgames, school events and functions. He said he's looking forward to meeting teachers, students and parents and building relationships in the school district.
General News on 05/16/2018
Print Headline: Prairie Grove Hires New Assistant Superintendent