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McKenzie principal retires to spend time with family, care for farm

After being part of the McKenzie School family for a decade years, principal Mike Gunter is now retiring.

During his time at McKenzie, Gunter served as assistant principal for seven years and as principal for the last three.

“It was a very good experience. I came to a school that had a community that was very committed to the school and a faculty that was very committed to the school,” Gunter said.

“It made it a job that was not really as difficult as it would have been in some other places.”

Throughout the years, Gunter has had his fair share of memories, but overall his favorite thing about his job has been watching the students grow, mature and live their lives to the fullest.

“It’s all been such a good experience. The biggest highlight is being able to watch kids that were in second and third grade when I arrived here go all the way through and graduate, mature and learn,” Gunter said.

Whether the students have gone on to college, technical schools or straight into the workforce, Gunter is proud to see his students making a difference in the world.

Gunter says that seeing these students grow up physically and in their education makes him proud to work in education, and has inspired him throughout the years to continue working his hardest as principal.

“I think the biggest thing here is that we all know each other. We are able to identify with students because we know their parents, backgrounds and what they’re coming from,” Gunter said.

“People are very willing to communicate, and it’s easy to communicate with the parents here. It’s not a perfect place, but it’s always striving to be that way.”

Superintendent Amy Bryan praised the job that Gunter has done in his time at McKenzie and the impact he has had on its students.

“I have joked that we  ‘grew up together’ as we’ve both worked together in various roles for many years — 26, I think,” she said. “In those years, he has impacted thousands of students in Butler County.”

Due to family illnesses, Gunter decided that it was time for him to finally retire and dedicate as much time as he could to caring for his family.

Along with spending time with his family, Gunter now hopes to take his free time to work more on his farm and spend some much-needed time there.

“I wanted to retire at a time when I could still enjoy retirement,” Gunter said.

“I’ll be spending a lot more time with my family and a lot more time with my cows. That will occupy the biggest part of my time.”

While a new principal has not been named for the school as of yet, Gunter leaves behind advice for whomever will take him place.

“You always have to listen, and listen to everyone,” Gunter said.

“Be willing to admit sometimes that you make mistakes. I’ve made a number of mistakes in my years, but when you do make a mistake, correct it. Make sure you have good people around you. I don’t have all of the answers, so I made sure to surround myself with a great support staff.”