DELAVAN — Delavan-Darien High School Interim Principal Mike Kolff will remove the word “interim” from his title for the 2015-16 school year. The Delavan-Darien Board of Education Monday approved Superintendent Dr. Robert Crist’s recommendation to retain Kolff for the entire year.
“In his short time here, I have come to trust Mike and am confident in the work he has done already,” Crist said. “I am very pleased with his work and the high school environment that he helped create. I look forward to him being with us for at least another year.”
“I’m excited and eager to continue working toward the goals that we set,” Kolff said. “In education, there are a lot of moving targets. I want to ensure our staff has the capabilities and capacity to stay ahead of things so we can always have a proactive vs. reactive approach to what happens in our building.”
Kolff came out of retirement in late January, returning to DDHS to take over for former school principal Mark Schmitt, Ed.D., who retired unexpectedly due to personal health-related reasons.
Kolff had previously been principal at Beloit Turner High School for about seven years until his retirement in 2012. He was an associate principal at DDHS for three years starting in 2003.
Many veteran staff members gave high recommendations for Kolff following Schmitt’s retirement, Crist said. Many of those same veteran staffers gave Kolff a standing ovation when he was introduced at a January teacher meeting.
“There are only a few school districts I would have done this for,” Kolff said. “It had to be one close to my heart.”
Kolff has been reliable and staff has supported him during in his short time as interim. That, along with his past experience as principal and his strong bond with DDHS prompted Crist to make the one-year offer.
“I have high expectations for Mike,” Crist said. “His knowledge and expertise in high school education will help develop our high school operational practices and bring our foundations of learning and teaching to greater levels.”
The school board unanimously approved the move, which will allow the district to focus on continued improvement rather than performing a lengthy and potentially expensive search.
In addition to his administrative experience at Turner and DDHS, Kolff has 29 years of classroom instruction prior to that at Whitewater, Milton and Cassville school districts. He graduated from Milton College with a double major in history and Spanish. He also holds master’s degrees in educational technology (1999, Lesley University) and educational administration (2003, Marian University).
When Kolff came into the interim role, he said he would do the job as if he were staying for the long-term. He has been highly visible in the school, at school events and in the community.
In fact, that visibility is one of the traits for which Kolff is known. In 2011, a Janesville Gazette feature article about Kolff recognized his efforts to take photos at numerous school events and provide them to students and families free of charge. He has also offered to take senior photos, free-of-charge, of students in southern Wisconsin who had a serious financial need.
Kolff’s DDHS photo gallery has grown already and has become popular with the students, who are able to download and share his photos on their own social media pages or via email.