School district honors departing superintendent
BULLHEAD CITY — Benje Hookstra took the stage Friday afternoon at Mohave High School to show appreciation for Colorado River Schools employees as another school year winds down.
But Hookstra’s pending retirement meant the appreciation would be flipped back at him.
After Hookstra read off the names of Bullhead City and Colorado River school district staffers who have reached service milestones or are retiring, BCESD curriculum and professional development director Cindy Neuzil and CRUHSD governing board President Lori Crampton took time to recognize him.
Neuzil noted that 13 years ago, she applied to be curriculum director at the BCESD. She learned that another candidate had more experience, and
thought that person probably deserved the job. She was hired for another district position, and the other candidate — Hookstra — became her supervisor.
“I’ve been working since I was 14,” Neuzil said before the group of educators in the MHS auditorium. “I have never had a boss like Mr. Hookstra. He is my ultimate favorite.”
She said that Hookstra is quick to help employees with problems and knows how to work for all school constituencies.
“I have never seen a man or woman that did make all his decisions just for the good of the children, the staff, the community and the parents,” she said. “He’s a wonderful person, who would do anything for children.”
Crampton noted that Hookstra took over as CRUHSD superintendent when Riley Frei resigned last summer. He previously was assistant superintendent for both districts, and continues to serve as de facto business manager for the BCESD.
“It was a really difficult year for us,” Crampton said. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through it without him. He was a champion for our students, our staff and the fieldhouse.”
At a grand opening ceremony later Friday for the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse, Crampton credited completion of the project under budget to Hookstra’s leadership.
She said she would miss Hookstra’s leadership and his sense of humor.
Hookstra, as is his fashion, declined to discuss the praise from Neuzil and Crampton and appealed to the teachers to finish this school year in a manner that will lead to the best start for next year.
“We’re separate districts, but we have to act as one, for the benefit of the children,” Hookstra said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
Neuzil’s remarks drew a standing ovation for Hookstra, the second of the night. The first went to MHS English teacher Kevin Greene, who was honored for reaching his 35th year of service.