The Christian County Board of Education had its first virtual meeting Saturday morning due to COVID-19. The board voted unanimously to name Christopher Bentzel as the next Christian County Public Schools superintendent.
“I look forward to working with Mr. Bentzel,” said board member Tom Bell. “He has a proven track record in the Christian County Public School system.”
Bentzel, currently the principal at Christian County High School, was previously the principal at Lacy Elementary School and Christian County Middle School.
The position was posted Jan. 22 after CCPS Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill announced that she would be retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year. The estimated end date of the search was April 1.
After a closed search with the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, the board announced its decision a few days early.
“You are a deserving candidate,” Gemmill told Bentzel at the meeting. “And I have a lot of faith and trust in you.”
When Bentzel was first transitioning from the military into education, he said it didn’t really hit him that working in administration would be for him.
“After my first principal role,” he said. “Probably, about six or seven years after, I thought this was something I could look towards and try for.”
Though he has experience at every level in the school district, Bentzel said he’s nervous to take on the new role.
“I think nervous means you care,” he said. “And I do care a lot.”
He added that he knows the district is filled with great people from the bus garage to the school board that will help him along the way.
“Nerves should come with it,” he said. “It’s a great responsibility. But one that I’m very grateful and humbled to have.”
Though he is excited for his new job, Bentzel said it will be bittersweet to leave CCHS. Due to COVID-19 causing school closures, Bentzel had to let the CCHS staff know of his departure through email.
“It’s been surreal in the fact that I can’t see our staff,” he said. “It’s been a little bit of an understandable disappointment that I can’t tell them face to face.
“That’s my family. My home away from home.”
Although he’s sad to leave CCHS, Bentzel said he is not going far.
“I’ll continue to have their back, along with all the schools,” he said.
He added that he thinks he can accomplish more from the superintendent position for all schools in the district instead of just one high school as a principal.
He said Gemmill has had a great run as superintendent.
“I’m really proud of the fact (that I’m) taking over for and transitioning with such a great leader in the central office and staff,” he said. “And it can’t be discounted, the work that’s been done here already.”
Bentzel said he knows times are tough for parents, students and staff currently due to COVID-19.
“Hang in there,” he said. “I know this is a difficult time … but it’s necessary and we’ll get back to our feet soon and get back to normal operations soon.
“And when that day comes, I’m really, really looking forward to it.”
Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org