Five years of tenure ended with one sentence last week.
McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen turned in a notice of retirement to the Board of Education, and it was short and to the point:
"Dear Board Members: Please be advised that I will be retiring as Superintendent of Schools, effective at the close of business on June 30, 2009. Sincerely, Dr. Mark Petersen."
The notice was emailed to the board last Wednesday morning. A printed copy was handed to them at the Thursday night budget work session.
Dr. Petersen has been superintendent of McDuffie County schools since 2004, when he came from having served as superintendent of Lanier County Schools for two years. Prior to that, he had been a principal, assistant principal and teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
"I've given this place (McDuffie County) everything I had for five years," he said. "And I will continue to hold this place dear in my heart. I want to do everything that's right and best for boys and girls, and I think for five years, that's what I've done. So, I can sleep good at night and know that I've done what the Lord called me to do here."
After his retirement, Dr. Petersen and his wife, Brenda, will move to Ninety Six, S.C., where he will become superintendent of the school system there. Ninety Six is one of the three school systems in Greenwood County. Dr. Petersen was hired with a unanimous approval by that school board Tuesday, March 24, according to The Index-Journal newspaper in Greenwood.
The Ninety Six school system has four schools with 1,600 students, according to their website. Dr. Petersen said a $24 million combination sixth through 12th grade school is about to be built there, and he looks forward to carrying out the construction in the same manner as the new Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School last year.
According to The Index-Journal, Dr. Petersen applied for the job there in September when it was first posted, and said the town's small population appealed to him, as did the system's academic success.
"It's one of the top five school systems in the State of South Carolina," he said to The Mirror.
Dr. Petersen said the Ninety Six school board gave him a "real nice welcome," which included gifts and a Ninety Six shirt.
The superintendent said he will continue to work to make McDuffie County schools the best they can be until his last day. The board members met Tuesday to discuss locating a replacement.
Even with the warm welcome and his many years of experience, there may be one aspect of the move to South Carolina that will be an adjustment for Dr. Petersen, who is a University of Georgia alumnus - Ninety Six's mascot is the Wildcats.
"I will still be loyal to the UGA Bulldogs," he said with a laugh, adding that he and his wife had just purchased some new stadium chairs with the UGA logo. "We are going to take these chairs in the stadium and gym (in Ninety Six) and we're going to sit in them. I understand about South Carolina, but you know, there are just some things that don't change. We'll have a lot of fun with it."