ANDERSON — Sharing bowtie tips — and the story of a tie in soup — along with memories and farewells, Felix Chow walked the halls of Anderson High School for perhaps the last time as Anderson Community Schools’ superintendent.
Telling teachers and parents alike that he was there Tuesday night at the Powwow “to say hello and goodbye,” Chow made one of many visits to the district’s 10 schools before his last day Thursday.
Today, he’s packing up to prepare for his trip with wife, Ann, who's leaving the Alexandria Community School Corp. as its instructional technology director, to their new home in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Having served the district since 2010, Chow announced in July that he was stepping down as superintendent to enjoy retirement.
Now he has plans to become a “senior citizen student” and take violin lessons at the University of Michigan. Some of his fondest memories of Anderson involved his violin and participation in performances, such as a solo with the Anderson High School band.
“He’s a bright light and I hate to see that light go,” AHS U.S. history teacher Mike McKenzie said.
McKenzie, one of the teachers Chow stopped to chat with at the Powwow, had him come out to lecture about how a school board functions in relation to the government each year.
He said Chow “brought something ACS needed.”
The superintendent has been credited by members of the school board for bringing the district back from a $2 million deficit.
He’s had his critics, too.
But reflecting on his time as a school administrator, Chow said he was glad for the chance to step in and help struggling school systems.
“A look back at (my) career and I have become problem solver,” he said. “I didn’t get a call unless there was a mess.”
Like at his previous job in Flint, Mich., Chow suggested Anderson close school buildings - often met with resistance - to help save the district money.
ACS still has a ways to go performance wise, but Chow said he wants students to actually remember what they learn and not just do well on tests or get an ‘A.’ There’s so much emphasis on test scores, he said, when many kids just forget the material.
The next superintendent, Chow said, just needs to come in and keep the district moving forward.
Ingrid Childs, who has two children in ACS, said she hasn’t always agreed with his decisions but also noted he’s had some tough ones to make.
The district isn’t “in the hole anymore” financially and student performance seems to be improving some with a higher graduation rate of about 83 percent, she added.
“I think he’s been very visible,” Childs said, adding she’s seen him out at community events and showing "support for the kids” by going to events like band competitions and soccer games.
While Chow didn’t have much time to interact with students and parents, he did say it was one of his favorite parts of the job.
He got “so many hugs from the little ones (at Southview Preschool Center) it was amazing,” he said.
While the school board has yet to appoint an interim superintendent, Chow said the system in place will allow his team of administrators to run the district for the time being.
Like Dani Palmer on Facebook and follow her @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.