BLUE EARTH - Jack Eustice was looking for a new challenge and he found one.
Eustice has tendered his resignation as principal of Blue Earth Area High School and accepted the position of superintendent at Nicollet.
"I walked down the hall and I thought how lucky I am to be in this position," Eustice said of his days working at Blue Earth Area. "Such a positive environment. But no matter what position, you're always going to have a boss. I'd like to be the one answering to the (school) board."
MOVING?ON — Jack Eustice has served for more than a decade as principal of Blue Earth Area High School. Eustice has accepted the position of superintendent at Nicollet High School.
With his fondness for Blue Earth and the fact that Superintendent Dale Brandsoy was leaving, why didn't he go after the superintendent's job in Blue Earth?
"The timing wasn't perfect," Eustice said. "I was still finishing up my license."
Eustice believes Evan Gough will do fine as Blue Earth Area's superintendent.
"I think they've got a very good young person in that position and maybe that's best," he said.
The process to pick Eustice's replacement has already begun. Applicants will visit with two committees, which will interview six candidates, Brandsoy said. The choice will be narrowed until a new principal is chosen.
"We'll have a decision, hopefully, within two weeks," Brandsoy said.
But Eustice will be missed.
"Any time you have anyone who's spent as many years in a district, that's definitely a loss to the district," Brandsoy said. "It's gonna take a lot of getting used to."
Eustice and his wife, Mona, came to Blue Earth in 1978.
"We thought we'd stay five years and see what we thought of the place," he said with some irony.
Eustice coached wrestling and taught social studies. He said he got help from the late Dick Maher, activities director, and Ken Queenslend, superintendent for more than 30 years.
Eustice got his master's degree and principal's license and went to Janesville in 2000.
"This job [at Blue Earth] opened up and I came back here in 2001," he said.
The people made him come back.
"Staff, teachers, all want these kids to do well," he said. "I think Blue Earth Area is pretty good at that."
And he believes it has a lot to do with what happens outside of school.
"I've always been proud to say I work for Blue Earth Area," Eustice said, where people are involved in the community. "If you're in education, it's nice to be in a place that values it."
Staying in one place so long has its benefits.
"My goal as a coach was to coach a kid from kindergarten to 12th grade. I did that," Eustice said. "Now their kids are going to school. You can see how solid they are and passing it onto their kids. I call a lot of the parents as good friends. That's nice."
Two of the kids he guided along the way were his own sons, Luke and Ty. Both went to the University of Iowa and are still involved in wrestling.
"Teaching and raising kids is a pretty good way to go," Eustice said. "If you're in a good community like we are, it's a great way to go."
Mona is retiring from teaching first grade and was involved in her husband's decision to take the job in Nicollet, a town of about 1,000 with a school district about a third the size of Blue Earth Area.
"We definitely talked," Eustice said. "It isn't a 260-day-a-year job. It's less than that. Not as many days in the office. I hope that anyway."
And don't be surprised if you see Eustice strolling the streets of Blue Earth.
"I'm not leaving Blue Earth; I'll be here," he said.
He also lived in Blue Earth while he worked in Janesville and plans to do the same thing now "for the foreseeable future. It's about the same distance as when I drove to Janesvillle."
He said he is sure Blue Earth Area will do well without him.
"Things will go fine," he said, noting that teachers are all coming back and a number of the office staff has 20 or more years experience.
"This school district is on solid ground," Eustice said. "Frankie Bly is a heck of a school board leader, with some excellent school board members. They'll hire good people and figure out how best to carry out that direction. There will just be someone different sitting in this office."