principal Bruce Butler said he recently looked at the cohesive community at the Reston school, its rejuvenated academic reputation and the hours it takes to be a successful leader.
He decided "right now would be perfect timing for me and my family," Butler said.
"I think it is perfect timing for new ideas and leadership," he said. "We have strong teacher leadership—that is why we have been able to make good things happen."
He has been with Fairfax County Public Schools for 31 years. He started at South Lakes as an assistant principal in 1998, moving into the principal's job in 2005.
"This isn't a job one can do for too many years," said Butler. "At least in my opinion. A lot of weeks, it is 60-70 hours and you are here in the evenings. I am not complaining. But as I have gotten older, I don't know if I have the energy to give the position justice."
Butler says he made the decision fairly recently.
"Retiring is not something I came into the year thinking," he said. "I just feel the kids, teachers and community need the best. They deserve the best. If my energy is waning, then it is the right thing to do."
Butler, who is married and has two children in their 20s, says he "has some irons in the fire" for other educational work opportunities, but is not seeking school-based employment.
"I didn't want to do that anywhere but here," he said.
FCPS will begin the hiring process by holding a community meeting with Cluster VIII Superintendant Fabio Zuluaga. A date for the meeting has not been set.
Butler says he is proud of the strides South Lakes has made, pointing out college acceptance rates, the number of students taking honors and IB classes and the number of students pupil placing at the school are all on an upward trend.
"I had been at the school seven years when I was hired as principal," he said. "There were so many wonderful teachers and incredible kids. I wanted the group to get the respect it deserved. There were still inconsistencies in our school that we needed to address."
"I am most proud that I was able to work with the parents and the teachers and everyone played a part in our goal—to be seen as an academic destination," he said. "There is still more work to do, but students who come here have an incredible academic opportunity."
Butler says he will miss the South Lakes' community's great spirit.
"It's been an honor to work with the students at this high school for 14 years," he said. "There is great hope for the future."
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