While you can take the educator out of the school, you can't take the school out of the educator — and it seems former Sedgwick superintendent Mike Hull wouldn't want it any other way.
"You retire and you want to do something worthwhile and you don't want to just not work," Hull said. "I wanted to do things that I wanted to do that I felt were valuable and kept me busy."
Unsurprisingly, many of those things that Hull gravitated towards revolved around the school setting. Retiring from USD 439 three years ago (after 21 years as superintendent there and 43 years in education overall), Hull has remained a fixture in the Sedgwick schools — happy to help out with numerous student activities, from football games to track meets to scholar's bowl.
Retirement has also afforded Hull the opportunity to give his time to a program that he sees as more than worthwhile, the superintendent mentoring program offered through the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute.
"As a new superintendent, they didn't have a program like that when I started out, but I had experienced superintendents who were nice enough to help me. I could call them and they'd help me, or people from the state department," Hull said. "I really felt like I owed something for all the people willing to help me when I became a superintendent."
Jumping at the chance to be a mentor, Hull has served in the program for three years now, offering his guidance to eight superintendents in total. His first year as a mentor, he helped administrators for the Haven and Moundridge school districts, then Inman and Little River. This year, Hull has been assigned three mentees — in the Herington, Pretty Prairie and Sterling school districts.
How the mentorship proceeds is at both parties' discretion, whether they communicate via email, phone, etc. is a matter of personal preference, though Hull noted one face-to-face meeting is mandated each month.
Oftentimes, that means Hull is back in a school setting among these new superintendents' districts. However, he also noted he tries to facilitate some other opportunities to meet up and advise the administrators, like escorting them to Topeka for the state school board's annual budget meeting in July or the department of education's meeting on available resources — making them aware of all the assistance that is out there.
"The first thing I always try and do is say there's always somebody who can help you," Hull said. "It may not be me, but maybe I can help them find that person. It might be at the state department, it might be the superintendent next door."
When he is called upon, though, Hull is ready to offer his recommendations and support — not just to those in the schools. On top of his work in the mentorship program and continued involvement in the Sedgwick schools, Hull also volunteers once a week to clean the parish hall at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Halstead.
In his retirement, Hull has managed to keep his plate pretty full with all of these efforts, but supporting others continues to bring him joy just as it did during his career in education — whether it was the work of students organizing relief efforts following a tornado or the dedication of those who served on the school boards he worked with throughout his career.
Support like that is something that Hull simply said should be readily given, a mentality he picked up from his parents and one he encourages others to strongly consider adopting.
"Whatever you do as a volunteer or charity or helping others," Hull said, "you receive much more back than you give."