Kathy Steele's decision to retire as superintendent of Crawfordsville Community Schools was not unexpected but we haven't met anyone who is happy about it.

She has been superintendent for 12 years in a state where the average length of service for a superintendent is just three years.

"I'll turn 66 in May," she said Tuesday. "We got Tuttle off the ground. I love what I do and I know I'll stay busy."

Her husband is 70 and has had some serious health problems and she wants to spend more time with him.

I wish her well.

I have mentioned before that I was quickly impressed with the Crawfordsville Community Schools corporation from the first time I covered a board meeting 1994.

While other school corporations have had their troubles -- some rather serious problems -- Crawfordsville always seemed to have a solid foundation, at least from my viewpoint as an outsider but one who has written many stories over the years.

Dr. Kathy Steele has played a large part in the success of Crawfordsville schools.

In 1994 she was the curriculum director and Dr. Craig Glenn was superintendent. Glenn had succeeded John Coomer, who moved on to the Bloomington area.

A few years later, Glenn moved on but Kathy Steele was always there.

I am very glad she was named superintendent. I was the editor of a daily paper in another community during that time but I was delighted to learn Kathy Steele had been promoted.

She is proud of the way the new Crawfordsville Junior High is progressing, rising from the foundation of Tuttle Middle School and well she should be.

One of the images that I will remember is Kathy holding a piece of metal that fell from the gym ceiling, nearly striking a Tuttle student. The metal was shaped like a spear and was an excellent visual aid, showing everyone present one of the many reasons Tuttle had outlived its usefulness.

Kathy and I have not always seen eye to eye.

A couple years ago a family approached the school board with an objection. We covered the situation because it was a big deal at the time.

Kathy wrote a column about the subject and I flubbed my dub. I ran the column inside and it should have run on the front page where the story had been.

I'm sure I have not always written what she should have liked but she has always been gracious to me and before we got off the phone yesterday, she reminded me I had requested an interview for an unrelated story.

"Now we have to get together than do that," she said.

I hope she accepts our invitation to join Rotary. Alan Plunkett said he was going to invite her to Kiwanis.

Whatever she does in retirement, I know she will continue to be a very positive influence on our community.

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Paper.