Retiring Schools Superintendent Reflects on Long Career

MOUNDSVILLE — Marshall County Schools superintendent Michael Hince has announced his retirement at the end of the school year, and is optimistic for the future of the district.

Across nearly 40 years in the district, Hince said he has seen several aspects of the county’s educational system advance in a positive direction. Among the highlights, Hince said, were the growth of fine arts programs in the county, and the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — programs at every grade level.

“Our fine arts program is just kind of exploding. It’s attracting lots of students, in music, art, drama. … You can look at the STEM initiatives, and we’re one of the only schools in the tri-state area who’ll have a STEM program from elementary to high schools.”

“If you look at our (Career and Technical Education) programs, and our simulated workplaces, it’s just absolutely phenomenal with students taking responsibility for their future,” Hince added.

In addition to the strictly academic side of schooling, Hince also recognized that allowing the county’s educators more autonomy has also had positive results.

“When I see that Marshall County teachers are again winning awards at the state and national level, it makes me really proud,” Hince said. We’re headed in the right direction. One of the things that’s improved dramatically in the last four years is leadership. Both teachers and administrators, they’ve been given the opportunity to be involved in making decisions, and they’ve done wonderfully with them. … I think we have a very positive outlook in our community about our schools, and inside the schools themselves, that tells me they’re a success.”

In addition, Hince added that an emphasis on the positive achievements of students and teachers, through the school’s communications coordinator, Tony Wood, has helped the community recognize their efforts and awards.

Hince announced earlier this month that he would retire in order to spend more time with his family. Being superintendent, he said, required a substantial investment of time that he felt was mutually exclusive with his duties to his family, including his aging parents and 7-month-old granddaughter.

“My parents are older, my father’s health is not great, my father-in-law is older and I just wanted to be available,” Hince said. “And I’ve got a granddaughter. The requirements of this job are time-filling — a lot of hours, evenings and after-school things, and the day starts early. I had to come to the conclusion that I would give up what I want with my family, or I’d give up the job. I couldn’t do both. I can’t be a good son and a father and a good superintendent at the same time.”

Hince said he does not intend to pursue further employment elsewhere after his retirement, at least not for the time being.

Hince began his career with Marshall County Schools in 1979 as a teacher, a position he held for 21 years at John Marshall High School before serving five years as assistant principal and John Marshall and eight years as principal at Washington Lands Elementary. Having insight into a wide variety of age groups, Hince said, helped him serve as an effective administrator.

“All I had was secondary experience, and then I had eight years of elementary experience. When you’re superintendent, you’re not just one or the other. It really helped me a lot, having that grasp of the entire school system.”