Mark Holodick has called the Brandywine School District "home" for his entire life.
He's a graduate of the district and served in various capacities from coach to teacher to principal to, ultimately, the pinnacle position: superintendent.
His two youngest daughters also attend school in the district.
And now he's moving on.
"Definitely mixed emotions...it's my home, and leaving is not easy."
But if there's one thing Holodick has learned during his tenure, it's that every great school has a strong leader behind it. Now, he gets to spend time shaping and molding those future leaders, who will go on to become principals at schools in the tri-state area. He'll serve as lead faculty for the Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL) at the University of Delaware.
"Coaching is going to be a large aspect of the position," he told WDEL. "Also there will be a lot of professional development for aspiring administrators as well, including aspiring superintendents."
One his primary roles at DASL will be developing an executive leadership program for aspiring superintendents.
"Being able to take what I've learned over the past two decades, really, in leading schools in a district and sharing that information and continuing to do research, and then applying that research to practice in schools, it's just motivating and inspiring," he said. "When you're at a place where you've been in a school leadership position...for now over 20 years, the idea that you're going to be able to go back and work with researchers directly, do research yourself, and then work in schools and with future leaders to put that research into practice, in terms of educational leadership, it just doesn't get much better than that."
Holodick will depart his role as superintendent at the end of January 2020, with the school board picking his replacement.
"I will support the board as they deem fit," he said.
During his decade at the helm, Holodick said he's most proud of meeting the needs of a diverse student population with 11,500 students in the district.
"Through creative and thoughtful programming that ultimately leads to, to impactful outcomes for kids, really...there are kids who come in who need little support to be successful, quite frankly, because of the kind of support they're getting at home. And at the other end of the spectrum, we have children who arrive who have significant disadvantages, and need many supports in place to be successful."
"We've approached every student and family as if they're our most important customer, and we've done everything we can to meet their needs."
Holodick said he leaves the district's 16 schools in "fantastic shape" with safety and security improvements made.
But when it comes to what he hopes students remember:
"I just hope they remember that I was the kind of leader who was approachable and cared about their success."