VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - It was an emotional tone throughout Monday night's Vigo County School Board meeting. That's as most of it was centered around saying goodbye to Superintendent Dr. Danny Tanoos as he attended his last meeting in the role.
"I lay my head at rest at night easily," Tanoos said, "After all the things that've been said and done, I would say that people would say Danny Tanoos did what was best for our kids."
Hours before the meeting, Tanoos sat down with News 10 in a one-on-one interview in his office, which is now mostly empty, with the exception of one thing that's still there on his bookshelf.
"That's one thing I haven't taken down is the cross behind me," he said, "It's still looking over my shoulder so I know that I'll continue having a blessed life."
In a nearly 40 year career within the Vigo County School system, 20 of it was spent as superintendent.
Reflecting back on his career, Tanoos said it's the administrators, teachers and students who are most responsible for the school corporation's local, statewide and national success.
"I was always able, as a principal and as superintendent, to build a team that had much more strength than I had, it just took someone to bring them together," he said, "Just like a good basketball, football coach, or a debate coach or academic coach, they bring those players together that are the best to lead and you stand out of their way and let them do what they do best."
It's been a lengthy career, filled with many ups and downs, but proving the most difficult, Tanoos said, is going through the losses of former students and employees. However, the success has been watching students and teachers thrive in and outside of the classroom.
"The glory part has been that I've been able to see students move on to great successes around the world," he said, "Locally, I think what we've done with our clinic for employees has been something big, the renovation and building of schools, the teams that have been successful on the athletic floors, but mainly in the classroom. Seeing those kids thrive and seeing teachers getting awards for their great successes, those have been the wonderful things I think I'll take with me."
"I've been to places, I've taken our students to Japan," Tanoos added, "I've been able to sit in a Heisman Trophy celebration for a student, I've observed students win world championships, I've been able to be present when children were born of employees and been able to make those lifelong connections that will just be memories that I'll take with me, lost my father along the way, that's tough."
With a 20-year stint as superintendent, Tanoos has been met with his own personal challenges.
"Anyone who I've ever offended, I apologize to," Tanoos said, "It's solely been in the interest in what's best for kids."
While Tanoos will make his final exit on July 1st, he won't be far away from the school corporation. Tanoos said he plans to help his replacement, Dr. Robert Haworth, get settled in his new role and the community, a transition he says that seems to be going smoothly so far.
"The good part about that has been his background study of the school system," he said, "He's been a person whose been sought after and wanted to go to a place where there's been successes that he didn't have to rebuild. Walking into the school system with a strong cash balance, strong academics, with a good food program, with strong employees, with great successes in so many areas, our transportation department doing very, very well. The safety and security probably stands out, along with the clinic, we have some of the safest schools in the country."
"I'll be thrilled that he'll take those things that we've done well and just build upon those," Tanoos said.
Just hours before parting ways with his school board on Monday night, Tanoos offered a piece of advice as they welcome in a new leader.
"I think they need to allow him space to do his job because everyone is going to be clamoring at him for their piece of time, and their piece of information, and their needs and wants," he said, "We have a great school board, and I know that they'll treat him as they've treated me with great respect and dignity and allow him to do his job. If they allow that to happen, I think that our best days are yet ahead."
In additon to helping with Dr. Haworth, Tanoos plans to also help oversee school safety and security until January 1. After that, he said he's looking forward to spending more time with his wife and family, while figuring out his next chapter.
While the days are nearing till the end of his tenure, there's only one thing Tanoos wants to say to Vigo County parents, students, teachers and administrators.
"I think the two big words are thank you," he said, "They've accepted me for my strengths, and my weaknesses and flaws. They have made me a better person, a better leader, a better Christian, a better father and a better friend."