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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

Experienced educator becomes Gretna East’s fourth administrator

Challenging doesn’t begin to describe the first semester at the school, at least for some. Opening a brand new school, managing and planning professional development for staff, dealing with every detail of running the day-to-day building, educational, activity, and athletic operations took a toll on Principal

Michael Tomjack, assistant principal (Courtesy of Michael Tomjack)

Chad Jepsen and Assistant Principals, Jamie Ewer and Ryan Garder. To help with the workload, the district hired Michael Tomjack, a former middle school principal from Elkhorn Grandview, to be the school’s third assistant principal.

Tomjack brings 33 years of experience with him as an educator and administrator combined. He semi-retired from being an administrator in July 2023 but jumped at the opportunity to return to education.

“I knew I wanted to do something and was always kind of keeping my eyes open for the right fit,” Tomjack said. “The superintendent here called the superintendent in Elkhorn and asked if they knew of anybody and said, ‘We think we might have somebody that would be interested.’”

His duties include taking over several of the “extras” that fell on Garder’s plate on top of his responsibilities as athletic and activities director. Students with last names P-Z are now assigned to Tomjack instead of Garder. He will also work with and help Jepsen, Garder and Ewer each day and, like them, he will monitor the halls and sit in on classes.

“After 30 some years and 25 years of being a principal himself, he knows the job,” Jepsen said. “It’s just understanding kind of the process here and he really will help us in any capacity.”

Tomjack visited and observed the school during first semester, two days a week, to get a feel for it before officially being hired and eventually starting on Jan. 10. While he was supposed to start on Jan. 8, that was delayed due to snow days; however, he is happy to officially be part of the admin team.

“I was more excited to come back than anybody,” Tomjack said. “Since I was here in December, I kind of got to know the way things work, so it’s just a matter of being here on a consistent basis.”

Working in education for so long, Tomjack realized he didn’t want to say retired and said he learned that he didn’t want to stop being involved in a school, even if it meant just keeping scores at a basketball game or working the downs marker for the football team. He had to get back to where belonged and find that unique feeling.

“There’s something special about walking into a school,” Tomjack said. “It’s different than going into any other place of business or anything else. You walk into school and there’s energy.”

Opening a new school is something most educators don’t get to do. However, coming from Elkhorn Grandview, Tomjack has experience the other administrators didn’t have prior to first semester.l.

“He was a part of opening a middle school in his principalship, at Elkhorn,” Garder said. “He has a unique skill set that not every administrator of 20-some years would have in building a brand new building and setting the culture.”

While the future is undecided on whether or not he will return next school year, Tomjack knows where his heart currently lies and is already settling into his new role as a Griffin.

“The school is beautiful, but again, the school is bricks and mortar,” Tomjack said. “It’s the people inside that make it what it is. So kudos to Gretna East for having a great start, it’s only going to get better.”

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About the Contributor
Brody Heidemann, Sports Editor
Brody Heidemann is a junior at Gretna East and this will be his second year on an online journalism staff. He was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High last year. This year he is the GEHS Wingspan's Sports Editor. As a sophomore, Brody won third place in Yearbook Sports Feature Writing and also fifth in Sports News Writing at the NSAA High School State Journalism championships for Class-A. Brody enjoys participating in journalism because he is interested in learning about other people and likes being social. His goal for this year is to stay productive and keep stories coming out. Outside of school, he enjoys playing video games, working at Hy-vee and hanging out with friends. 
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