Thomas leaving Pine River district

Koenig to become elementary principal

LEROY — Pine River Area Elementary is saying goodbye to one of its staff members while welcoming another as its new administrator.

After four years with Pine River Area Schools, Alan Thomas left his position as elementary school principal to work as a field consultant with Michigan Department of Education. In the new job, he will work for schools in the western part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula to help them find ways to spend Title 1 money to meet the needs of the students.

"I think down the road it was something I wanted to do in my career," Thomas said. "It's a tough decision because it's what you're comfortable with, but new paths open up when you least expect them."

Thomas will be able to stay in Osceola County and telecommute most of the time, though traveling also is a factor. In addition, he said he will have to travel to Lansing once each month. However, the new position will allow him to spend more time with his family, he added.

PRAS Superintendent Jim Ganger calls Thomas a great asset to the district, a wonderful educator and committed to curriculum.

"Al was a great academic leader and role model for students and staff," Ganger said. "We're going to miss him."

Thomas began his career in the school district as principal of Tustin Elementary School. Once the elementary schools consolidated, he took over the position of principal at Pine River Area Elementary School in LeRoy.

"I will remember how our Pine River families care about their kids," he said. "I've had a great opportunity to work with them toward the same goal of providing great education."

Thomas will miss the students, parents and staff he has come to know in the district, and is happy he will be able to be involved in the community though in a different way, he added.

Replacing Thomas is former Pine River High Schools social sciences teacher Scott Koenig, who has been with the district for 12 years.

"I'm pretty ecstatic," Koenig said. "I've been preparing for this for a while, but I'm still excited. The staff has been wonderful with me stepping in."

He said PRAS has amazing qualities, but one thing stands out above others.

"The care factor in our district is second to none," Koenig added.

Koenig has an extensive educational background. Apart from his degree, he has attended administration meetings discussing school improvement plans, is the former union president and he currently serves on the Cadillac Area Public Schools Board of Education.

"We chose Scott because of his love for curriculum," Ganger said. "He's always been a leader and brings a lot of experience to the district and elementary school as far as curriculum at the elementary and secondary level. He's a true professional."

Koenig wants to finish the rest of the school year on a strong note and meet the students' needs. To prepare for the 2014-15 school year, he will focus on teamwork, school environment, curriculum development and trying to go above expectations, he said.