Whitehall-Yearling High School Principal Paul Smathers made the decision to leave the district – but the deluge of support that followed changed his mind.

Smathers’ about-face last week means he will remain as the school’s principal when students return Aug. 20.

On June 19, Smathers submitted a letter of resignation to Superintendent Brian Hamler, declaring his last day in the Whitehall district as July 31, the final day of his contract.

But Smathers delivered a message to Whitehall district officials around 1 p.m. June 27 withdrawing his resignation.

In his statement, Smathers said he is “not ready to leave.”

“My heart is still with you, the community, and especially with our families and the kids we serve. We have a tremendous staff and our school is doing great things. I am not ready to leave (and) overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of support and care,” Smathers wrote in a statement sent June 27 to all Whitehall-Yearling staff members.

Smathers was poised to accept a job as director of student services for the Groveport-Madison Local School District.

Groveport-Madison’s school board was scheduled to meet June 27 to consider his hiring, but Smathers informed the district prior to that meeting that he would remain in Whitehall, said Jeff Warner, Groveport-Madison’s public information officer.

Smathers said he sought the post at Groveport-Madison as both a challenge and to advance his career, but his Whitehall family made him see things another way.

He said June 29 that he withdrew his resignation because of “the overwhelming outpouring of families and students expressing their gratitude for my time and work (at WYHS) that had me questioning my decision to leave.”

In the end, Smathers said he followed his heart, adding that the numerous calls, e-mails and people who stopped him in public made a significant impact.

“My decision to not leave was (also) made due to my passion an desire to (continue) being part of the great things happening in the district, (and) I wanted to continue to work with the great staff to accomplish these goals.”

Whitehall school board members were prepared to accept Smathers’ resignation July 12, but that no longer will be necessary.

Because the board never acted to accept it, no other action is necessary for Smathers to remain principal, said Ty Debevoise, director of communications and marketing for Whitehall schools.

“We are thrilled he is staying on,” Hamler said. “We know that Paul had a tremendous outpouring of support and he has a big fan club out there.”

Smathers was hired in August 2014 as an assistant principal at Whitehall-Yearling and was named principal in March 2016, after the resignation of Carl Svagerko.

He had been an assistant principal at the school since 2014 after coming to the district from South-Western City Schools, where he was principal at Finland Middle School.

Smathers was selected from 62 candidates to succeed Svagerko, who resigned in December 2015.

He will begin his third full year as principal when classes resume Aug. 20.

“We have so many great things going on in our schools and I want to be a part if moving forward,” Smathers wrote in his statement. “I’m proud and honored to still be the principal of Whitehall-Yearling High School.”

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