Indian River School District Superintendent Mark Steele has announced his retirement from the Indian River School District, effective Tuesday, June 30.
At its regular meeting June 22, the IRSD Board of Education appointed Dr. Jack F. “Jay” Owens as the new district superintendent beginning Wednesday, July 1. Owens was previously the district’s assistant superintendent.
Steele has been a teacher and administrator in the Indian River district since 1981. After beginning his career as a math and physics teacher at Indian River High School, he went on to serve as the school’s assistant principal from 1991-99 and principal from 1999-2013. He became IRSD assistant superintendent in 2013 and was promoted to superintendent in January 2017.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the Indian River School District for the past 39 years,” Steele said. “Retirement was a very difficult decision, but it’s the right one for my family and me. I have been extremely fortunate to work with so many gifted staff members, each of whom has always had the best interests of our students at heart. We faced many challenges during my time as superintendent, but I am extraordinarily proud of our accomplishments, which include the passage of a critical current expense referendum in 2017 and an equally important major capital improvement referendum in 2020. I am comforted by the fact that the district is in perhaps its best financial shape ever, and has a solid plan in place to relieve current and future overcrowding in our schools. It has been a privilege to work with Dr. Owens for the past two years. He is truly a talented educator and the right man to lead the Indian River School District moving forward.”
A 1996 graduate of Sussex Central High School, Owens has been an Indian River School District educator for more than 20 years. He has been the district’s assistant superintendent since July 2018. He will be Indian River’s seventh superintendent since the school district’s formation in 1969.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to lead one of the finest school districts in the state of Delaware,” Owens said. “The district has had many great accomplishments in recent years, and I look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence. Many challenges lie ahead in the coming weeks and months, and district residents can rest assured that my staff and I will work tirelessly to provide the best possible educational services to our nearly 12,000 students.”
He said, “It’s humbling to be chosen to follow in the footsteps of so many great IRSD superintendents, and I thank the board of education for this tremendous opportunity. I also want to thank Mark Steele for his many years of dedicated service and leadership to the Indian River School District. Mr. Steele guided the district through many challenges during the past three and half years, and he did so with conviction, enthusiasm and optimism. He is the epitome of a leader, and I wish him the best in retirement.”
Owens previously served as the district’s director of student services from 2017-18, director of special services 2016-17, and director of assessment and accountability 2014-16. Prior to joining the district office staff, he was principal of Sussex Central High School from January 2011 to June 2014. Between 2006 and 2009, he served stints as an assistant principal at Sussex Central High School, North Georgetown Elementary School and Howard T. Ennis School.
Owens began his career in the Indian River School District in 2000 and served six years as a special education and regular education teacher at North Georgetown Elementary School and the Richard Allen School. He was Richard Allen’s Teacher of the Year in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
Owens holds a doctorate of education from the University of Delaware, a master of education degree from Wilmington College and a bachelor of science degree from Salisbury University.
The district has posted the assistant superintendent’s position and began an immediate search for candidates to fill that post.