By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
After 45 years in the academic arena, Jim Malanowski, the principal of Morgan County High School (MCHS) has announced his retirement, effective July 1, 2016. Malanowski, 67, plans to retire from his position as principal, but is hoping to continue in some kind of academic role until he turns 70 in three years. “My time at MCHS has been spectacular,” said Malanowski. “I love to see the kids grow and celebrate the successes with them. We have done some incredible things in the last four years.” “When I look back at it, I could have chosen to do something where I made a ton more money, but I can’t think of anything I would have rather done,” said Malanowski of his career in education. “It’s so rewarding. I have students from 45 years ago who still keep up with me after all this time.” Malanowski signed on as principal just four years ago, but began teaching at MCHS 11 years ago. He started out as a social studies teacher. Over the years, he taught Economics, Government, IB Business Management, and Psychology. Malanowski was first appointed interim principal of MCHS back in May 2012 before the Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) decided to keep him on permanently. Malanowski is originally from Ohio, where he graduated from Capital University. He then earned his Master’s Degree from Ohio State University and then his Doctorate Degree from Bowling Green State University. Malanowski worked his way up to become the vice president of Performance Learning Systems, where he helped develop 14 graduate-level courses. He first visited Madison while on assignment with that company. When he returned to Ohio, he told his wife Lorene, “If we ever move, I know exactly where I want to spend the rest of my life.” Malanowski was enamored with Madison’s rich culture, small town living lifestyle, and friendly people. “The reception I received was just overwhelming, the people here really adopted us when he arrived,” remembered Malanowski. Jim and Lorene moved to Madison in 1988. The rest is history.
Malanowski became principal at MCHS during the height of the economic downturn, leaving tough budgetary decisions to be made, including cutting a quarter of a million dollars from the school’s budget, implementing 10 furlough days for staff, and other austerity cuts. “We went through some tough times then. But thankfully, the economy has turned around and I believe our district is back on its feet financially,” said Malanowski. Malanowski is proud of the accomplishments MCHS was able to achieve despite restrictive budgets. Malanowski is particularly proud of the State Championships on by the MCHS boys and girls basketball teams, as well as Jody McAllister’s state win for the wrestling team. “It’s hard to beat two state championship in one night,” said Malanowski. Malanowski was also principal for the last state championship won two years ago by the boys basketball team. He is proud that during his time at MCHS, the local Boys and Girls Club has been incorporated on campus and that ROTC program has been deemed in the top 10 percent of all ROTC units in the world. Under Malanowski’s leadership, MCHS’s graduation rate has increased each year for the last four years, climbing to an impressive 89.5 percent. Malanowski is looking forward to the establishment of the new College and Career Academy on the same campus as a new high school and middle school.
“The community support for our schools is incredible,” said Malanowski. Stepping down as principal is a bittersweet moment for Malanowski, who will miss the students, but is confident in the board to replace him with a principal that can invest in MCHS’s future. “It’s one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make, but it’s the right thing to do.,” said Malanowski. “I will miss it always.”