Streetsboro -- Jon Natko, who has been the principal at Wait Primary School since 2005, will be retiring at the end of the school year to expand his career in counseling.
Natko's retirement was unanimously approved Jan. 10 by the Streetsboro Board of Education. He said he plans to retire from the school district June 30.
"He announced it early enough in the year to give us time to begin our search [for a successor]," Superintendent Dr. Tim Calfee said. "He has done an excellent job for us leading the school building. For a number of students entering our district, his building has been the first one they've gotten to."
Natko's annual salary is $88,668, according to Catherine Rouse, school district treasurer.
"I appreciate the service Mr. Natko has provided to the district during the course of his employment," School Board President Denise Baba said.
Natko, who has been an educator for 29 years, does counseling on the weekends at Aurora Counseling Services, 199 Chillicothe Road, Aurora.
"I plan on expanding that," he said. "It's exciting for me."
Natko's counseling service is multifaceted. He works with couples who have marriage difficulties; children of divorced and separated families; recently divorced women who have anger issues; high school graduates who need career guidance; and children who have academic problems due to frustration, anxiety and emotional issues.
"I want to start some social groups for school-age children so they can work on learning how to handle certain situations," he said. "There is a real need for school districts to work on conflict mediation skills, to teach children how to peacefully resolve issues as they occur so they don't escalate into dangerous situations. They need to learn that conflict is natural, and it's how we deal with it that is important."
Natko, 56, and wife, Sally, live in Aurora with their son, Nicholas, a sophomore at Aurora High School, and their daughter, Addy, a third-grader at Leighton Elementary School. He said he made his decision after discussing it with his wife during the winter school break.
Natko said the hardest part about moving on is leaving co-workers, students and parents.
"They are part of my extended family," he said. "I've become close with the community and the students in my building. I will tremendously miss the relationships I've built up over the years."
Before coming to Streetsboro, Natko was a clinical social worker in Cuyahoga County and a teacher in Moreland Hills, but he wanted to become an administrator.
Natko's career in Streetsboro began in 2001 when he was hired as assistant principal at Campus Elementary School. After that, he became assistant principal at Henry Defer Intermediate School, then principal at Wait.
"As an administrator, I enjoy the fact that I am working with families," he said. "I could see some real progress and that I was making a difference with people. I enjoy working with the entire staff to make them more effective in the classroom."
Calfee said he plans to work on filling the position "as soon as possible."