Superintendent retires after 36 years of service

Wanda English Burnett

Retiring South Ripley Superintendent Ted Ahaus lived his life’s dream of being a school teacher and coach. He even realized the education process at a higher level and served as principal and finally superintendent, all at South Ripley School Corporation.
Ahaus worked his last day on Tuesday of this week closing a fulfilling chapter in his life.

“I cannot remember ever wanting to be anything other than a teacher and a coach,” Ahaus told The Versailles Republican. He said in junior high be began seriously discussing the matter with a school counselor.

The drive to become a teacher was realized when he was hired as a mathematics teacher at South Ripley in 1974 by then Principal Gus Moorhead.

A graduate of North Dearborn High School, Ahaus went on to obtain his B.A. in mathematics and physical education from Marian College. He completed his Master of Science Degree in Education from Indiana University in 1978. Then in 1990 he earned his Administration and Supervision License from Xavier University and in 2002 earned an Educational Specialist Degree from Indiana State University.

Education was a big part of his life, whether he was teaching or learning.

Also, during his nearly 36 years at South Ripley, he served as coach, athletic director, assistant principal, principal, administrative assistant and finally superintendent since 2002.

Ahaus said his father, Henry, was the most influential person in his career. He noted that in addition to his parenting, his father coached athletic teams at the Yorkville School he attended where there were eight grades and only 80 students. “He (Henry) was very influential in the early development of all the young men in the community for many years,” Ahaus noted. He said there were many teachers and coaches who also played a part in his career choice.

While there was a high percentage of boys from Yorkville who went into coaching and teaching for careers, Ahaus said it was truly a passion for him. He said he was the fourth mathematics major to graduate from college in a six year time period of those who grew up in Yorkville.

His greatest accomplishment? “Raising three wonderful children,” he noted, adding he did this along with his wife, Vicki. The two will be married 40 years in August. Vicki has been an elementary teacher at South Ripley for a number of years.

The importance of family was highlighted at a recent reception event for Ahaus when his son, Steve, spoke. He was emotional while telling what a great father he has. He also told how challenging it could be to be the “principal’s kid.”

Other family members including Steve’s wife, Kristen, were in attendance and included: daughter Lisa Guthrie and husband, Adam, and children Drew and Aiden; daughter Beth Brewer and husband, Matt, and children, Luke, Olivia and Mallory.

“This has been a wonderful place to raise a family and educate our children,” he noted.
On a professional level he said his greatest accomplishment was the completion of the building/renovation project at the school. “This project will have a tremendous long-term effect on our entire school community. I could not be more pleased.”

He said the budget reduction plan for the 2010-2011 school year was at the top of the list for the greatest challenges he has faced over the years. However, he said for the most part, he feels things are in good order.

Another challenge is to get people to work collaboratively towards a common goal. He said, “In education you deal with students, teachers, administrators, board members, parents, and school patrons. Getting them on the same page is the ultimate goal,” he noted, adding, “we accomplished this goal effectively in the building/renovation project.”

When asked what the darkest day of his career was, Ahaus said it was February 18, 2009. This day the South Ripley School community lost teacher Michelle Riggle in a tragic car accident as she traveled to school. “There have been a number of tragic losses over the years that I have worked in the corporation. None created a darker cloud than the loss of this young teacher,” he told The Versailles Republican.

He says he has no specific plans at this time, except to enjoy spending the summer with his wife, and taking some trips. “I’m not sure how I will respond to retirement. My favorite job was teaching in the classroom,” he noted. He added, “Perhaps I will return to teaching at some point. I will let the dust settle this summer and see how I feel as the school year approaches.” He said all options remain open - including full time retirement!

Ahaus has attended hundreds of meetings over the years, met with countless parents and students, and said he really has enjoyed his time at South Ripley.

He has served on a number of professional boards over the years and belongs to the Versailles Lions Club and Versailles Baptist Church.

“I am truly appreciative of the opportunity to live and work in the South Ripley Community the past 36 years. I feel blessed to have met and worked with so many outstanding people. It has also been a privilege to work with the youth of this community. I have always enjoyed working with young people. Hopefully, in addition to teaching math in the classroom, I have set a good example as an administrator for our students, faculty, and staff,” Ahaus concluded.