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'It will not be the same': Beloved superintendent announces retirement plans

Mary Pfeiffer
Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-15 19:06:16-05
  • Neenah Joint School District Administrator Mary Pfeiffer has announced her intent to retire from her position of superintendent in June of 2024.
  • Colleagues share why the beloved superintendent will be missed, why she was so special, and what's next for NJSD.
  • A formal acceptance of her letter of resignation is expected November 21, with an ambitious goal of selecting a replacement by early April.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

After a long career of impressive accomplishments, a beloved superintendent has announced her plan to retire.

I’m your Neenah Neighborhood Reporter Darby McCarthy, learning about the legacy of Dr. Mary Pfeiffer, and the future for the Neenah Joint School District.

“It's a loss for us for sure to have her step away, but she, she's earned her retirement well.”

Wednesday morning, the Neenah Joint School District shared that Superintendent Mary Pfeiffer announced her intent to retire next June.

“It was a fun journey. Loved every job I've had, and I'm so happy that I've been able to be here for 15 years.”

When I went to the NJSD office to meet Dr. Pfeiffer, a parent called to leave a message about her positive impact on their student. And after talking to NJSD Board President Brian Epley, that seemed like a fair omen of the person I was about to meet.

“She deserves the credit.”

In her career, Dr. Pfieffer has overseen a lot of changes in her school’s district, and earned some impressive accolades, like becoming Neenah’s first Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year in 2021.

But her personal accomplishments aren’t her focus.

“WE’VE accomplished a lot, right? Because one person could never do what we have done.”

“It absolutely is a ‘we’ scenario. I just, I try to give her more credit than she will take for herself.”

Epley says it's bittersweet to know her retirement is on the horizon, and the board will be searching for a firm to hire their next superintendent.

“We hold Neenah and our community in, in high regard, and we want the very best. So, we're definitely going to look far and wide to find the best leader for us in the future.”

Epley says replacing Pfeiffer is ambitious all on its own.

She’s held the position of superintendent for much longer than state averages.

"I'm so grateful for Neenah. I feel this has been the right place for me."

I found a Wisconsin Policy Forum report from last year that states there is an average of almost two superintendent turnovers per district in a twelve-year period.

So basically, in the time she’s worked with Neenah, statistics would have guessed she’d have left twice already by now.

“Usually the tenure is much shorter. But we're lucky to have had her for 15 years.”

Now what’s left is the formal acceptance of Pfeiffer’s letter, and then the school board will seek the right professionals to hire Pfeiffer’s replacement. But no matter what, in Epley’s words:

“Not the same, it will not be the same.”