Spencerville schools chief retires after 35 years

Lance Mihm

December 29, 2013

SPENCERVILLE — When Joel Hatfield took a job as a teacher with the Spencerville Local School District 35 years ago, he figured he would be there for only a few years while he got his career started.

Thirty-five years later, while his career is ending, he is still there.

An open house was held in the school cafeterium Sunday as hundreds of well-wishers attended to bid Hatfield good luck with his retirement. Monday is his last day.

“I thought I would come here and stay a few years, but here I am,” Hatfield said. “I appreciate the opportunity I had here. I wouldn’t change anything. It is a good community and people look out for each other. It is just a good, Midwest small community.”

Hatfield came to Spencerville in 1978 as a social studies teacher. He was originally from Waynesfield and was a Kenton High School graduate. In 1991, he was hired as the high school principal and then became the superintendent in 1999, serving 14 years in that post. He also is a veteran serving three years in the U.S. Army.

Hatfield said the biggest change he has seen in public education is technology. Other than that, he said it has not changed as much as some people seem to think.

“I hear a lot how much the kids have changed,” Hatfield said. “I don’t think the kids have changed as much as they say. There are always going to be those few kids that get into trouble, but overall, the kids here have always been great, always respectful.”

Hatfield said his long career at Spencerville seems to be a rule rather than an exception, as he said many teachers spend their whole career at Spencerville until they retire.

“I’m not unusual, I guess it is just a great place to be.”

Hatfield said he plans to do some traveling with his retirement and will possibly seek a part-time job. He said he was open to new experiences. He added that he had a woods located at his property that he would like to clean out.