ETHAN — What was originally going to be a one-and-done stint with the Ethan School District has turned into a career for one long-time Ethan School District employee.
After 27 years at the school and eight years as the Ethan School District’s high school principal and athletic director, Tim Hawkins will be taking over as the district's superintendent and elementary school principal on July 1.
“While I was in college, I came home and I remember talking to (his wife) Gina about it and I said, ‘Yeah, it'll probably be a one-year stint and I'll be moving on,’" Hawkins recalled. "Fortunately, there were such great people there when I first started. Great parents just made me want to stay. They made me feel like I was part of a family and, so I've stayed there ever since.”
Hawkins, who grew up in Onida, spent his first 19 years as a middle school/high school math teacher, along with assuming the activities director responsibilities for a few years before taking the principal role.
Hawkins, who accepted the job in February, will be replacing Terry Eckstaine, who took the post in 2011 and originally only planned on being around a few years according to Hawkins.
“He decided to stay because he had so much fun and had such a great staff to work with, great kids and great parents,” Hawkins said. “That's what's going to make, I think, the transition pretty easy for me just because of the great community that we have.”
He takes over as the superintendent in a key time for all school districts in South Dakota and around the country, dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. He said having some experience with how Ethan handled the final months of the 2019-20 school year will make the start of 2020-21 more easily adaptable.
“The unknown is what makes it really difficult and I'm sure we're going to be dealing with that unknown for a couple more months or so,” Hawkins said. “You just got to take it in stride and do what you can.”
Hawkins said he’s hopeful the South Dakota Department of Education will provide more guidance for all schools to prepare for the fall.
As Hawkins will step into his new role, he will also be stepping back from other roles he’s held over the years. That includes being an assistant coach for the Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan football team, a fall tradition for him for 28 years.
“I still will volunteer some time. You know, where needed,” Hawkins said. “I've been coaching football for 28 years, so I can't just walk away from that.”
Hawkins, who earned his undergraduate degree at South Dakota State University and postgraduate degree from the University of South Dakota, said he is hopeful that with the time away from coaching, he’ll be able to see his two kids, Rachel and Brady, more often. His youngest, Brady, is set to play baseball at SDSU.
Replacing Hawkins as the new principal for grades 7-12 and activities director will be Bryce Roth, who has served as a 7-12th grade social science teacher and boys basketball coach for Ethan.
Ethan schools are currently scheduled to open for the new school year on Aug. 19.