School superintendent heads overseas for military duty

By Roberto Acosta
The Flint Journal

LINDEN, Mich. (AP) - School Superintendent Ed Koledo has traded in his office and surroundings in Linden for a year-long stay in the United Arab Emirates in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

Koledo, 49, will be part of support for Operation Spartan Shield in his role as Lieutenant Colonel for the Michigan National Guard's 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment. His unit handles heavy artillery such as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

Russ Ciesielski has been named interim superintendent for Linden schools while Koledo trains alongside United Arab Emirates and Jordanian military units with the weaponry, according to The Flint Journal.

Ciesielski moved into the superintendent position from his role as high school principal, with Darin Dreasky named interim high school principal and Kraig Enders moving into the interim assistant principal role.

"This will be a tremendous opportunity for all the militaries involved to increase proficiency in their weapons systems and build relationships on an international level," said Koledo in a statement. The battalion was recently deployed following a ceremony at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Sanctuary in Detroit.

The battalion will be housed with other groups, including NATO forces. "This is a classic case of the Michigan Guard members having the opportunity to travel to places, and interact with people they probably never would have if it weren't for being in the Guard," Koledo said.

"The value of those relationships is immeasurable," he said. The 350 soldiers in the Michigan contingent are coming mostly via the Olympia and Bay City National Guard armories. They traveled first to Fort Bliss, Texas, for training prior to their departure.

The artillery unit will bring its own equipment on the deployment, including launching systems for rockets, Koledo said. "It's like the difference between driving your own car and driving a rental. The rental has the same functionality but you trust your own vehicle, you know it better. Plus, any maintenance that's done, or improvements made to the equipment while overseas, will benefit our own Michigan unit."

Maj. Ryan J. Keith, the battalion's executive officer and full-time officer-in-charge, called the M142 Rocket System the most lethal weapon in the Army's inventory, in an article on the Michigan National Guard website.

Ciesielski said Koledo previously served a tour overseas while he was principal at Hyatt Elementary. Koledo returned in 2008 and took on the role as interim superintendent before he was chosen as the district's top administrator in November of the same year.

The pair had worked on transitioning Ciesielski into the interim superintendent's position since March 2014, after the Linden Board of Education approved the moves in the leadership positions. He officially took on the role on July 1.

Ciesielski, who has served as high school principal for more than seven years, said he was included in activities and training at the superintendent level. He was given a new contract to fill the interim role.

"The transition was minimal," said Ciesielski, while thanking the support staff for helping him over the last few months with school in session. "It's gone really well. Our board of education, they've been very, very supportive, very helpful."

As the conflict in the Middle East has raged for more than a decade, Ciesielski said Koledo's service has helped to put in perspective the number of U.S. citizens who go from civilian life into harm's way for service to their country.

Ciesielski said veterans talk with students about their service and military duty. "Some of those opportunities have been favorable (for the district)," he said.

No exact date has been given for Koledo's return to the superintendent role, but it's believed to be sometime in September 2016, when Ciesielski would move back to high school principal.

Published: Thu, Nov 12, 2015