Effort to save teacher’s job fall short
The crowd of about 50 students and parents didn't sway the De Soto USD 232 board of education at its meeting Monday night.
The board unanimously approved several personnel recommendations, one of which included the resignation of Mill Valley High School science teacher and Science Olympiad coach Jeremy Way.
Last month, Way informed his students his contract with the school district would not be renewed and he would not make tenure as a Kansas teacher.
Science Olympiad team members led an initiative to convince the board to let Way stay at Mill Valley. The group created a Web site dedicated to the cause and passed around a petition that collected nearly 300 signatures.
At the meeting, the students wore their proof of achievement in medals around their necks. They also brought along team trophies.
When Way arrived at Mill Valley three years ago, he revitalized the Science Olympiad team. This past weekend, the team went to state competition and placed third among small schools and sixth overall.
Emma Tolle, sophomore, said she was on the team and had Way as her physical science teacher last year.
"It was probably the best science class that I've ever had before," she said. "He's such a great teacher and he's so a part of this school."
Junior Brittany Stichka said team members are frustrated because they didn't know the reason Way was not recommended for contract renewal, which led him to resign. Stichka said the students had wondered if there was an underlying cause for Way's nonrenewal, but dismissed the idea.
"I think if there is something that we didn't know, if it was something underlying, he wouldn't have told us that he hurt so deeply when he found out," she said.
Because Way was not tenured, the reason for his nonrenewal was not shared with him.
Tolle said Way was more than just a challenging teacher and coach.
"He's someone we can all talk to and we can go trust," she said.
Now that Way will be absent from Mill Valley next school year, the future of the school's Science Olympiad team and availability of College Now courses is questionable.
"We hope we can have Science Olympiad again," Tolle said. "It's extremely time consuming."