VALPARAISO | After one month and six days of retirement, former Portage schools chief Mike Berta will be back on the job Tuesday as interim superintendent of the Valparaiso Community Schools.
The same holds true for retired Valparaiso High School Principal Jim Doane, the district's new assistant to the superintendent.
"I'd love to have him by my side so we can start putting this back together," Berta said.
School Board members unanimously approved both appointments during during a special session Monday night.
In selecting Berta, School Board President Mark Maassel said the district gains a proven leader, and having been on the bench only a month, Berta brings with him a wealth of knowledge in educational finance.
Board member Paul Knauff, said he was struck by a recent column one of Berta's former principals wrote in The Times, in which she said Berta always had the same camaraderie with the custodians as he did with the most senior administrators.
"The relationships he will build will be very valuable for the Valpo schools," Knauff said.
Thanking Flint Lake Elementary Principal Jim McCall for stepping in as district administrator for the summer after the school corporation lost its superintendent, both assistants, and last month's sudden resignation of finance chief Lynn Kwilasz, Berta harkened to his first day of teaching four decades ago.
"I was so excited to be in a position to make a difference with kids, and I'm saying to you that I'm just as excited now as I was 40 years ago," Berta said. "I will do what I have to do to make sure the children of this school corporation get the education they deserve."
Immediately following his approval, Berta recommended Doane as his assistant.
Berta, who's known Doane since the former principal was a young teacher in Portage, said his new counterpart is a "highly skilled and passionate" educator.
And while Berta has experience in the Portage and Merrillville school districts, Doane brings institutional knowledge of the Valparaiso schools.
"He bleeds green and white," Berta said.