After 31 years spent as a teacher and administrator, Greg Pratt says it’s time to retire. The longtime educator began his career as a science teacher at Orchard View Schools in Muskegon and ends it after nearly 15 years as the superintendent of Lowell Area Schools.
“When that voice inside you says it’s time, it’s probably time,” he says. After decades of spending evenings and weekends at school events, Pratt is ready to slow down. “[I] came to the realization that I couldn’t keep the same pace.”
There are have been continuing conversations with the school board about succession plans for when Pratt retires, and the longtime superintendent says he originally planned to leave the post in June. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to stay with the district until August. With his resignation, Nate Fowler, who has been the director of the district’s Department of Curriculum Assessment and Instruction, steps into an interim superintendent role.
Came for the Job, Stayed for the Community
At Orchard View Schools, Pratt moved into an assistant principal role before moving to Kent City Community Schools. He would serve as the superintendent there for two years before coming to Lowell.
“When you’re raising a family, you’re looking for opportunities for your own family,” Pratt says. Lowell Area Schools, as a much larger district, not only provided a place to grow professionally but also seemed like the perfect district for Pratt and his wife Liz to raise their two sons: Garrett and Grant.
Lowell didn’t disappoint, according to the superintendent. “It’s such a welcoming community,” he says. “People are so open to new things and new challenges.”
Certainly, there have been challenges over the years. When Pratt arrived in 2006, the district was faced with serious financial troubles that required tough decisions. However, the district was able to pay down a lot of debt, complete much-needed renovations to school buildings and expand offerings such as the orchestra.
Over the course of his 31-year career, Pratt has seen the educational landscape change. “Probably the biggest change I’ve seen is how we try to individualize education,” he says. The district has a close connection with Kent Career Technical Center which allows students to prepare for a variety of career paths.
The role of government-mandated testing in education has changed since the start of his career as well. “Over time, there has been an increased focus on testing,” Pratt says. “While data is important, the amount of time we spend testing can be detrimental.”
Time to Focus on Family
During his retirement, Pratt hopes to slow down and enjoy more time with his wife and family. Both his sons play football for Alma College, and Pratt envisions spending time this fall watching their games, COVID-19 allowing.
Pratt doesn’t plan to leave Lowell, and after taking time to reenergize, the former superintendent envisions getting involved in various community activities.
“I’m probably not the type of person to sit at home,” he explains. He’s already served at various times as chair of the Lowell Area Community Fund and member of the Rotary Club, FROM board, Lowell Wellness Committee and more.
Looking back to the start of his career, Pratt reflects that he never set out to be a superintendent. However, his father was on their local school board, and he knew the importance of providing quality education.
“I thought, I really want to help people find their path in life,” Pratt says. And he is grateful to have had the opportunity to do just that for nearly 15 years in Lowell.