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Dalhaus announces retirement

Farragut Middle School principal Richard Dalhaus recently announced his plans to retire at the end of this school year.

After seven years at FMS and more than 45 years as an educator in total, Dalhaus said it was “just time for me to look at other pursuits and spend some time with my good woman.”

That good woman would be his wife, Sandy.

Dalhaus began his educational career in Concord, N.H., teaching first grade to a group of boys with what he called “uniquenesses.”

“The kids were on their second year of first grade. They took the girls out and added a few more and said, ‘Teach them how to be a male model and get them turned on to school.’

“I learned more from them in that first half year than I think I learned in forever after that; plus an unbelievable respect for what those beginning teachers do,” he added.

As much as Dalhaus said he has enjoyed his career, he did not start out to be an educator.

“I thought maybe I would be on T-V and maybe work in journalism. I started out majoring in English and sociology and then I got hooked in a course and found out I had a knack with kids.

“I seemed to enjoy the kids and they seemed to respond. So I took a couple more courses and the next thing I know I was in the heart of it all,” he said.

“It has been a great, great ride. There has been some tough stuff, but I have never had to wonder about having purpose because every day you would go and there would be something to do.”

Ever the kid at heart, Dalhaus added, “Plus, when I was working fourth grade and fifth and sixth grade, you can play with kid’s toys and not feel bad. You can say ‘Oh, I am doing it for the kids.’ We would have paper airplane competitions or bicycle rodeos and just do fun stuff. The school I had in Evansville, [Ind.] I used to take them to camp each year.

“It is just fun to have fun with the kids. Sometimes they are frustrating but some of these kids are working some pretty tough odds. You come to appreciate that a lot of children are just unbelievably resilient. And given someone who becomes a significant person in their lives, it can all turn around in a heartbeat. We have seen that a number of times,” he added.

When asked why he decided, after six years in the classroom, to move to the administrative side of the education system, he said, “That’s what men did back then.

“It was … the money and just the challenge of it,” he added.

Dalhaus said he has no regrets about his chosen field.

“There can be a kid that you just say ‘I don’t know what we are going to do with this kid,’ and then some teacher will make a connection and just start to turn it around.

“It is amazing to see,” he added.

Dalhaus said he has enjoyed his time at FMS.

“This is a high level, high expectation school. It has significant parent support here. The valuing of education that parents instill in the majority of our kids really gives us that tradition of excellence that we like to brag about,” he said.

“I have just felt blessed having worked here. You wouldn’t believe how child-oriented the majority of the teachers are here and the parents have been really positively responsive and the kids are just fun. Even some of the ones that try to pull the little funny stuff,” he said.

Dalhaus said the main thing he will miss about his job is the interaction and the connections with the students.

“I had a boy today in the office. I said ‘How are you going to fix it with your teacher that you disrupted the class?’ and he said ‘I’ll just tell her I am sorry.’ And I said, ‘I have a better idea. That sorry bit, that is old. That really doesn’t cut it anymore. Why don’t you try saying something like I was wrong and I am going to try not to do that anymore? Because when you say you are wrong and tell them what it is you are wrong about then they will really know and they will have a better feeling than if you just go in there and say you are sorry because they have heard that sorry bit over and over.’

“Those are the kinds of interchanges that get me going and sometimes they walk out and you see that little gleam of them starting to grow from a boy into a man,” he added.

Although Dalhaus has not decided, besides spending time with his family, what he plans to do with his time, he is not rushing things.

“I have been kidding everybody about just crawling into a cave and not coming out for a month and the when I come out it will be a fresh new day and then I will decide what I am going to do,” he said.

Knox County Schools has albeady begun the process of searching for Dalhaus’s replacement.


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