From left, student Cade Stephens, Del Norte Elementary Principal Curt Tarter, student Lacie Schooley, RISD Superintendent Michael Gottlieb and student Gavin Sim stand in front of an elm tree dedicated to Gottlieb at Del Norte Elementary school, Friday. The students hold paper representations of a plaque that will be placed next to the tree. Noah Vernau Photo
Del Norte Elementary students and staff dedicated a lace bark elm tree to Roswell Independent School District Superintendent Michael Gottlieb during a ceremony outside the school on Friday, recognizing his 30 years as an employee in the district. Gottlieb, who will retire at the end of June, has held the superintendent position for eight years.
Curt Tarter, Del Norte Elementary principal, said students and staff raised money for the tree and a plaque over the course of many weeks, raising about $450. The plaque, which details Gottlieb’s tenure in the district, will soon be permanently placed on a stand next to the tree.
“We consider him a man of high character and a good leader,” Tarter said. “And students, staff, parents — this whole community — we really respect him.”
Tarter said seeing students gather loose change and spread the word for everybody to pitch in and honor the superintendent provided revealing testimony to the character of Gottlieb.
“I think it speaks very highly of him,” he said. “You can pick a lot of different causes to raise money for, but to honor a man for his life of work and dedication to district schools says a lot. It speaks volumes. …
“Everybody thinks that they are his personal friend; that’s the way he treats people. And so he’s just generated that kind of respect with the people he works with. …
“I think Mr. Gottlieb’s people skills are his strongest attributes. He is aware of every single person and what they do, and acknowledges that on a regular basis.”
Gottlieb began his career in the district as a 6th-grade teacher at Missouri Avenue in 1982, spending eight years at the school before becoming principal of Military Heights Elementary for six years. He became director of Instructional Programs in 1997, assistant superintendent for instruction in 1999, and RISD superintendent in July 2004.
Physical education teacher Joe Harton said he has known Gottlieb as a strong person of character for many years.
I’ve known him since he was a principal over at Military Heights, and I’ve always thought very highly of him and the job that he does,” Harton said. “He’s very professional. Now he’s going to start a new career as a retiree. I’m just happy for him and I hope he has a fun retirement. …
“He’s a very kind man and tries to be as fair as possible. I had both of his kids come through here, so I got to coach his kids. They were always good parents, and it shows by their kids.”
The school district will honor Gottlieb on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. Tarter said every school will be represented, and that each one has done something to show their appreciation for Gottlieb’s service.