Ryan Martin’s journey has come full-circle.
Although that was not in his plan.
The Mahomet-Seymour School Board voted unanimously Monday night to approve the hire of Ryan Martin as the Assistant Principal of Middletown Prairie Elementary for the 2018-2019 school year.
Martin, who has spent 13 of his 17 years in education as a teacher at Leal Elementary in Urbana, is no stranger to Mahomet-Seymour.
He grew up in Mahomet. His children are in the Mahomet-Seymour School District. His wife teaches and coaches in the district. And he has been part of the Mahomet-Seymour High School boys’ basketball program for 12 years.
“I never really intended when I first started this journey through education that I would be back in my hometown. But I think it has drawn me back because it’s an unbelievable place,” Martin said.
Martin got a glimpse of what it might be like to educate children as a high school student when he helped retired basketball coach Randy Sallade during summer camps.
“That’s where I developed a passion for being around youth and helping them, teaching them and watching them grow,” Martin said.
Martin continued to explore the teaching profession alongside neighbors and family friends who were teachers in the Mahomet-Seymour School District right after high school.
“I really enjoyed it so I decided to go into elementary education. I have loved all 17 years of it,” he said.
Martin found more than a love for teaching on the Mahomet-Seymour basketball coach, though.
Under the leadership of Chad Benedict, the head coach of the MSHS boys’ basketball program, Martin began to take an interest in becoming an administrator.
“Being part of the basketball program has been a huge part of my administration growth,” Martin said.
“I think Chad Benedict does an absolutely phenomenal job leading our program. He’s someone I’ve looked up to as a mentor, not just as a coach, but as a person. And I think I’ve grown as a person being underneath him.”
As a young teacher, Martin said he did not understand why teachers are required to do all of the professional and staff development they are required to do year-after-year.
Once he got into his Master’s studies, pursuing a degree in Educational Organizational Leadership, he saw through an administrative lens why things were set up the way they are.
“It helped me grow as a teacher going through that,” he said. “I haven’t got to a steady routine in my teaching where it is just stale curriculum. I like to challenge myself.”
Martin knows that coming into Middletown Prairie as the school transitions into a K-2 building will be a challenge for many.
“You’re going to be going from two staffs to one staff,” he said. “That is a big change for anyone to go through. You’re going to have some teachers who have been teaching at Sangamon their whole career, and that is going to be very sentimental to them to leave that building.
“For me to come in, it’s just going to be another change, but I hope it will be a positive change that they can use as a resource to help them through, and come together.”
This won’t be the first time Martin has had to help individuals blend together. As student-athletes transition from the freshmen to junior varsity or JV to varsity team, he has been an accessible coach to have them adjust.
“I’d like to be a part of helping the staff grow, and then most importantly, helping the kids grow,” he said.
“I’d like to be a positive role model and a visible person who will be out there at recess time, playing with them, socializing with them, getting to know them. That’s my forte; I like to be active and out there and involved.”
Martin hopes that as students spend time with him, he brings out the best within them so that they can become better people.
“We have servant leadership as a big quality of our basketball team; how can you be a better teammate or a better person for other people out there? I hope that’s what rubs off from me; you want to be a better you after you’re with me.”
As a Mahomet-Seymour District Administrator, with after-school responsibilities and meetings, Martin will have to resign his JV basketball post, but he hopes to continue to be a part of the program on some level.
“I’m 100-percent committed to Middletown Prairie,” he said.
“But I’ll have a conversation with Coach Benedict after the season is over to see if there is a role for me or a way for me to still be involved.”
Martin will replace Middletown Prairie and Sangamon Elementary Assistant Principal Carol Shallenberger, who will retire at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
Martin has been hired as a 10-month administrator with a salary of $70,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.