“I’m easing into it,” said Petersdorf, who has been principal at Discovery Bay Elementary since 2005. “I’m not ready to leave right away, so I’m just going down the road.”
Literally. Starting this month, Petersdorf will become the school district’s coordinator of curriculum, a part-time position in which he’ll assist in the implementation of district-wide plans on such matters as reading assessments and testing.
“It will be about really commonsense things that just haven’t gotten done before,” he said. “It might be as simple as organizing the forms we use to create an assessment calendar or organizing the tests that we give. We’re at a point where this kind of across-the-board coordination needs to be done, and it’s something I think will really benefit the district.”
And when Petersdorf leaves on March 11, Excelsior Middle School Vice Principal Danielle Storey will fill in as interim principal until the end of the school year. In June, Petersdorf will officially retire, and it’s his hope that the district will then rehire him on a part-time basis for the following school year and possibly beyond.
“Ken (district superintendent Jacoppetti) has really felt the loss of an assistant superintendent this year. And while he is more than capable of putting together a curriculum plan, he simply doesn’t have the time, and this is something I think I will really enjoy doing.”
Storey, who is the vice principal at Excelsior Middle School and program administrator for the district’s preschool and after-school programs, said she’s ready and willing to take on her new role.
“I’m excited and honored and thrilled and a little nervous too,” said Storey, who has worked in the Byron District since 1995. “Of course, running a school is different than being a vice principal, but my big thing is going to be support. I’m all about support. We have amazing teachers over there who don’t need someone micromanaging them. They need someone to support them, and that’s what I plan to do.”
The Discovery Bay resident and married mother of three – all of whom are students at Discovery Bay Elementary – is fully credentialed as an administrator, has received her master’s degree and will begin working this year on her doctorate. But despite her obvious qualifications, Storey says she’s not taking any chances.
“I’m getting a big red phone installed on Allan’s desk so I can call him whenever I need to,” laughed Storey. “He’ll still be here in the district, so I’ll know where to find him.”
Petersdorf isn’t worried. “Danielle will do great, I wish her all the best,” he said. “Everyone is nervous when they first start out, and she’ll make mistakes like all rookie principals do. But you learn from that and one day you walk into the school and realize it’s a perfect fit for you. That’s how it was for me and it’s how it will be for her.”
Still, after nearly 40 years in the business, Petersdorf admits there are things about being a principal that he’ll sorely miss.
“Well, the hard part will be the kids,” said Petersdorf. “I’ll miss seeing them every day and having them come and talk to you about things that are important to them, like someone was mean, or someone didn’t want to play with then. And then you send them out of your office with a smile and a pat on the back and you hopefully made them feel better. That’s something I’m really going to miss.”