Most elementary school principals spend the last part of each school year preparing for the one that lies ahead. They make schedules, assemble class lists, coordinate summer projects for the building… generally prepare for the upcoming school year. This year, however, one long-time building principal will be doing something a little different: packing up his office. After a 40 year career in Topeka Public Schools, Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet Principal Marty Gies is preparing to retire.
Gies grew up in Tecumseh, Kansas and graduated from Shawnee Heights High School in 1972. He then attended to Washburn University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science and later his Master of Education degrees. A career in education seemed a perfect fit for the young Gies, whose father, Jack Gies Sr., was principal of Quinton Heights and whose mother, Bette, worked at both Highland Park High School and at the TPS administrative building. Gies’s brother, Jack Jr., was also an educator, having taught special education in Topeka Public Schools before retiring just three years ago. In fact, even Gies’s wife, Pam, worked for Topeka Public Schools at one time.
Though Gies is retiring as a principal, he began his career as an elementary P.E. teacher in 1976. He taught at Linn, McEachron, Shaner and Lungren elementary schools. He also coached wrestling and tennis at East Topeka Junior High and Eisenhower Junior High, and coached wrestling and football at Highland Park High School. After several years as a teacher and coach, he became Robinson Middle School’s activity coordinator. He followed that up with a stint as assistant principal at Eisenhower Middle School before becoming principal of Ross Elementary. Fifteen years ago, he landed at Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet, where he has been the principal ever since.
“I have enjoyed watching students grow up and learn the skills necessary to become productive citizens,” Gies said of his time in education. “I have also enjoyed working with wonderful teachers and staff.” After four decades in public education, Gies said dealing with No Child Left Behind has been one of his biggest challenges. “To have one test decide if a child and school is successful has been hard.”
After decades of looking after others, Gies’s retirement plans are appropriately indulgent: SCUBA diving, bike riding, golfing, traveling and spending time with his wife are all on the agenda. Thank you, Mr. Gies, for your many years of service to Topeka Public Schools. We will miss you!