By Travis Smola
Schoolcraft public school’s Finance Director Rita Broekema made her last presentation to the board of education at its February meeting.
After 18 years in the district, Broekema revealed she has taken a new position at Watervliet schools where she will re-join former high school principal Ric Seager, who left to become superintendent there last year. Her decision to leave, she said, wasn’t based on anything going on in the district. She saw the opportunity as good timing for a “new adventure.”
“I was not job hunting,” Broekema said. “I was not intending to do anything but retire from Schoolcraft schools and this was one of those opportunities.”
The board members all thanked her individually in their closing remarks of the meeting.
“I just want to say Rita, thank you very much for all you do for us and we wish you well as a board,” President Jennifer Gottschalk said. “We’re sad to see you go, but we understand.”
Superintendent Rusty Stitt echoed those thoughts. “We’re truly going to miss Rita and we thank her for her 18 years of service,” he said. “She has been my go-to gal for my nine years here.”
Middle School Principal Dave Powers also chimed in at the meeting’s close, saying Broekema is the best finance director he’s ever worked with.
“You are incredible at what you do. What makes it even more incredible is who you are,” Powers said. “I could not do what I do without Rita Broekema and she extends so much grace; it’s unbelievable the way she holds our hands and gets us from point A to point Z.”
Broekema thanked the board and staff for their kind remarks. She also noted this was where she raised her children and said she wasn’t planning to leave the village. “I thank you for allowing me to grow up in Schoolcraft,” she said. “It’s just been an amazing ride and so thank you.”
The board also recognized three people for their monthly “Soaring Eagle” awards ceremony. The first was SHS staffer Chris Kato; the second, States Golf Course. The most notable honoree of the meeting was high school senior Karson Leighton. It marked one of the first times the district has honored a current student with the award.
Leighton was recognized for being involved with the superintendent’s advisory committee and student council. Stitt said the dual-enrollment student has remained heavily involved in the goings-on at the school despite his heavy schedule, even giving input on the district’s plans for 2020 and its strategic plan.
Stitt also noted that Leighton has even returned to the school during free time between his dual-enrollment classes at KVCC, just so he could interact with fellow students.