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Lennertz retires as Wayland Academy head of school
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Lennertz retires as Wayland Academy head of school

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Wayland Academy’s retiring head of school rang the school’s victory bell Monday as faculty and staff gathered to celebrate his tenure at Beaver Dam’s private boarding school.

Joseph Lennertz first came to Wayland Academy in 1978 as a Spanish teacher before serving as head resident of Wayland Hall, language department chair, academic dean and then head of school since 2012. He announced in 2019 that he would retire at the end of June in 2020.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Lennertz said Monday. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m sure I’ll see you at the Pig, or the Y.”

Those gathered outdoors for the ceremony were largely wearing masks and standing apart from each other. Lennertz rang Wayland’s red victory bell, located on the campus lawn since the 1960s, 53 times. The bell is rung for celebratory events like graduations and athletic wins.

Emily Schroeder Orvik, director of communications for Wayland, said one of the options available during the school’s annual fundraising auction was to buy a ring of the bell. Wayland’s gala and auction was moved online this year in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Schroeder Orvik said the academy renamed one of the giving levels (gifts of $300-999) from the “Cordial Society” to the “Lennertz said” in Lennertz’s honor.

Wayland announced in the fall Jason Smith Warnick was appointed the new head of school following a national search after serving as the director of advancement and enrollment at Ross School in East Hampton, New York and a long professional career. He and his family arrived on campus and are maintaining quarantine.

“It seems surreal to be concluding a career that began here in 1978,” Lennertz said when he announced his retirement. “When I walked up the hill for the first time I felt immediately comfortable on the campus. That visit was the first of a thousand times that I have crossed campus since then. I count myself very fortunate to have had the privilege of living and working with dedicated colleagues and amazing students from all over the country and the world.”

During his tenure, Lennertz focused on adding a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) lab and curriculum, collaborative learning in the classroom, updating the fine arts program, adding library resources and renovating community spaces. He worked to implement distance learning technology as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

“During his career as an educator, administrator, and leader at Wayland, Joe has guided faculty and staff to empower students to embrace a wide variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom,” said David C. Larson, chair of the Wayland board of trustees. “His good influence has helped generations of our students to grow in knowledge and character.”

Follow Chris Higgins on Twitter @chris_higgins_ or contact him at 920-356-6751 and

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