Superintendent Ryan recharging for another year, gets raise

Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Ryan addresses the Clarkston High School class of 2019 at the annual commencement ceremony, which was held June 3 at DTE Energy Music Theatre. Photo by Matt Mackinder

BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer

Shawn Ryan will be back as Clarkston Community Schools superintendent for the 2019-20 school year, after his contract was approved at the June 10 Board of Education meeting.
His annual salary will jump from $170,000 to $175,100.
“To me, this has been ongoing for the last 20-plus years,” said Ryan. “So to me, I obviously look at it as one year at a time with the challenges and everything that we take on, but I think there is a bigger, long-term vision and piece to being part of Clarkston.”
Ryan is the sixth superintendent since the 1940s, and said continuity is a huge part of the district being held to remarkable standards.
“I think Clarkston kind of prides itself in that consistency, leadership and continuity of experience,” Ryan said. “I think we use that consistency to really explore new ideas because we have a good base to get off and chase, see new horizons. That piece is big.”
Ryan, a native of Big Rapids on the state’s west side, was appointed interim superintendent in Jan. 2018, after having served as a guest teacher (1995-96), student teacher (1996), science teacher (1997-2002), Clarkston High School assistant principal (2002-04), Clarkston Middle School principal (2004-05), Clarkston Junior High School principal (2005-10), and deputy superintendent (2010-17).
“I was subbing in Brandon, Clarkston and Waterford and something about Clarkston just kind of grabbed on to me,” Ryan said. “Or maybe I grabbed on to it. Just seemed like a mutual thing.”
When discussing his role as superintendent, the phrase “once you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” was mentioned in the conversation.
“It’s funny because when I was a kid and even now when I tell my wife I’m going to work, we never say work – it’s ‘I’m going to school,’” said Ryan. “The family, the kids, we’re all on that yearly calendar and flow of the school year and it really does feel like you’re part of something. I feel like when everybody goes home, there’s a certain feeling like for summer, you exhale, but there’s also kind of that anticipation wondering when they’re all going to come back. It gets too quiet too quickly sometimes and I think we look at it like it’s integrated in everything we do. To me, going to events and that kind of stuff, a lot of times, my kids are there or are involved, either on the sidelines or in the stands with me. We don’t see it as an event; we see it as being part of the community.
“And they don’t even get that when we do things in the community can be considered work. Take the Taste of Clarkston or something. It’s not that it’s work, but you have to engaged and visible in the community. My family takes that as being just something we do that’s fun. I think that’s kind of how you can be good at it. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like you get to be part of something in your community.”
Being superintendent in such a high-profile role, Ryan has taken to the city since he first came to northern Oakland County almost 25 years ago.
“Jobs can sometimes drag you down,” said Ryan. “With the people I work with, I feel like I get a boost from work. From being part of that, you get to charge the rest of your life.”
After skydiving the week of graduation to piggyback off his commencement speech of taking a leap of faith, Ryan said he’ll stay on the ground the rest of summer. His family is planning to vacation in the Upper Peninsula for 10 days and disconnect from technology.
“Hoping to get ready for another school year is a big piece, too,” Ryan said. “I’m also a doctoral student right now, so I have a lot of homework to do this summer. Going to the Upper Peninsula is a great way to get rested, get fired up and get ready for another year.”