When students at Geggie and Blevins elementary schools return to class on Aug. 22, they will find new but familiar faces in leadership roles.
Geggie Elementary Principal Mary Kleekamp is taking a leave of absence due to health reasons, so assistant principal Daniel Hannon was promoted to interim principal, according to a statement from the Rockwood School District.
Kleekamp was making $159,089 annually as principal and Hannon will be paid $126,078 as interim principal, a raise from his salary of $102,188 as assistant principal, Rockwood executive director of communications Mary LaPak said.
Tim Rebholz, an administrative intern at Blevins Elementary, will take Hannon’s place at Geggie as assistant principal, also an interim post. He was making $77,452 as administrative intern and will be paid $104,029 this coming school year, LaPak said.
The difference between an administrative intern and assistant principal is a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education distinction and is based on school size, with larger schools having assistant principals.
Administrative interns cannot suspend students or evaluate teachers, LaPak said.
Sara Thomason, who has been teaching third grade at Blevins, has been promoted to interim administrative intern, taking Rebholz’s slot. Thomason made $51,511 as a teacher and now will jump to a salary of $56,511, LaPak said.
Kleekamp, who could not be reached for comment, has been the Geggie principal since 2006, LaPak said.
“I will miss my Geggie family very much, but I look forward to keeping in touch and staying connected with you,” Kleekamp said in a message to the school’s families. “I’m confident Dr. Hannon and Dr. Rebholz will do an exceptional job of supporting your children and maintaining the Tiger spirit in my absence.”
LaPak said all three were promoted by former interim Superintendent Tim Ricker under emergency conditions. They started their new jobs July 1.
LaPak said the board will officially vote on all three hires during the next board meeting at 7 p.m. July 21 at Eureka High School, 4525 Hwy. 109.
Hannon, 40, of O’Fallon said he does not know how long Kleekamp will be gone, but is prepared to fill the void.
“This will be my fifth year with the upcoming school year, and I have just loved every minute of being a part of the Geggie community,” he said. “It’s a very close, tight-knit family of teachers and community members and parents and students.”
Hannon said he knows it will be hard to fill Kleekamp’s shoes, but he is ready to take on the role after working with her for four years.
“I don’t think I could do the heels that Mary wears,” he said, joking. “She’s been a major staple at Geggie for many years. You can tell the legacy that Mary has left behind, just as far as building this positive culture within our students, within our teachers, and within our community. I mean, it’s an exceptional thing.”
Hannon said he has no plans to change anything and instead will continue on the course that Kleekamp has set out.
“We’re working on providing the best education and interventions to support our students,” he said. “We know we’ve seen some slides (in academic achievement) with the pandemic, so we want to try to help close that gap.”
Hannon said he found his love of education while earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central Missouri State University in 2005.
“I loved being with kids, loved working, and loved seeing that progress,” he said.
He later earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Lindenwood University in 2011 and a doctorate in educational leadership from Maryville University in May.
Rebholz, 38, of Oakville said he is excited that his promotion will keep him in the Eureka community, but said it will be bittersweet to leave Blevins, where he has worked for three years.
“I’m really excited about it and I am really excited about working with Dan Hannon,” he said. “He and I have developed somewhat of a relationship over the last few years just through assistant principal meetings and being on building testing coordinator meetings and other district meetings that we attend. We often collaborate.”
Rebholz worked 12 years as a second-grade teacher in the Mehlville School District before being hired at Blevins.
Rebholz earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2007, a master’s degree in education from Southwest Baptist University in 2010, a second master’s degree in educational administration from Missouri Baptist University in 2013 and a doctorate in educational leadership from Maryville University in 2019.
Thomason, 28, of Ballwin said she is looking forward to moving out of the classroom and into school leadership.
“Administration has been something I’ve been passionate about for quite some time,” she said.
She has been a third-grade teacher at Blevins since 2021.
Thomason earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 2016 and a master’s degree in K-12 leadership from Southeast Missouri State University in 2021. She is working on a specialist certification in educational administration from Southeast Missouri State University and expects to finish that work in 2023.
Thomason graduated from Marquette High School in 2012.