Tomball Superintendent John Neubauer will soon be turning off the lights in his office for the final time, as he will retire following a career spanning more than 45 years.
Neubauer submitted a letter of resignation to the Tomball school board Jan. 14. His retirement will be effective when his contract ends June 30, after 16 years as the administrative head of the district.
"After much thought, prayer and evaluation, I decided that the time has come for me to retire," Neubauer said. "Retirement comes with mixed feelings. It's been an honor to serve the students of this district and a pleasure to work with so many wonderful and dedicated people district wide."
Board president John McStravick said that Neubauer's shoes will be difficult to fill.
"I think John has done an excellent job during his tenure," McStravick said. "He has been an asset to our entire school community. He is a dedicated educator who is loyal, practical and caring. The district is in great shape thanks to his leadership. As he plans his retirement, he'll have more time for his family and his hobbies."
Neubauer, who has held positions as a teacher, coach and principal, as well as superintendent, began his career in 1967, when the old 1936 Cherry Street building was an intermediate school.
"When I came to Tomball the principal handed me a textbook and a box of chalk and said, 'Good luck,'" he recalled.
Now, on that same site sits the new John P. Neubauer Administration Building, where his current office is located.
"My first teaching job was in the 1936 Cherry Street school where our administration building is now located," he said. "I feel I've been blessed to end my career in the same location where I began my career over four decades ago."
Neubauer, who also will step down as president of the Tomball Scholarship Foundation and chair of the UIL Region 9 Music Executive Committee, said his tenure was defined by one word --- teamwork.
"As superintendent I have set goals for myself and our entire staff has helped me achieve those goals," he said. "It's been a team effort."
He said he is proud of the financial shape the district is in, especially considering the tough times faced by other districts in Texas.
"I am proud that we offer the highest starting teacher pay in our area," he said. "We have weathered the school finance crisis without laying off employees or cutting any programs. We have maintained the same tax rate for five consecutive years. I am proud of those accomplishments, but I could not have accomplished any of those goals without the help of wonderful employees and wonderful students."
Neubauer said he plans to spend a lot more time with his family members and pursuing his hobbies.
"I plan to spend time with my family and with my grandson at our farm in east Texas," he said. "I also enjoy gardening, cooking, wood working and raising cattle and honey bees. I also plan to travel and see my relatives and I'm looking forward to that."
Tomball Communications Director Staci Stanfeld has gone from being a student of Neubauer's to a colleague and co-worker. She says he has been a huge influence in her life.
"We are going to miss him," she said. "He is a wonderful superintendent, a strong leader and a friend to so many people. He was my principal when I attended Tomball High School. Several of our employees are Tomball High School graduates and many of them had the opportunity to know him as a principal, teacher and coach."
While Neubauer jokes about his legacy – "They'll say I told a lot of stories and that I grow the best tomatoes they ever tasted!" – others say his footprint will last for a long time within the district.
"He has modeled the importance of being proactive and thoughtful when making decisions in the best interest of our students," McStravick said.
"He is a pillar in our community," Stanfeld added. "He's one of a kind and he's going to be missed."
Neubauer said he will miss the students and people of the community the most.
"I will miss seeing the accomplishments of our students and I will miss the people," he said. "The people of this great community have allowed me to serve all of these years. I'm a lucky man."