Jeff Ackerman: A fond farewell to local school heroes |

Jeff Ackerman: A fond farewell to local school heroes

As area high school students count the final days before summer break, many long-time educators are counting the final days of some very distinguished service to our schools.

Maggie Deetz, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District, will end her 37-year career in education next month. Deetz has headed the high school district for five years and has worked for the district since 1981, when she moved to Nevada County with her husband. Prior to becoming district superintendent Deetz served as both principal and vice principal at Bear River High School.

“I feel I’ve had a wonderful career,” Deetz told The Union when she announced her retirement in January. “But there comes a time when you want to focus on your family.”

The best thing any of us can ask is that we leave things in better shape than when we found them, and evidenced by the wonderful academic achievements of our local high schools, Deetz should walk away with her head held high.

Ralf Swenson has been hired to replace Deetz. He comes to the high school district after serving 14 years as principal in Merced.

Unfortunately, the announced hiring of Swenson was followed by news that Nevada County School Superintendent Terry McAteer will also be stepping down. The good news, at least for Bear River High School, is that McAteer is leaving his elected post to return to the classroom, where he has accepted a job teaching government, economics and journalism.

McAteer said his mother’s death last September made him take a closer look at his own life. “I think it’s one of those lifetime experiences that make you think,” he told us earlier this week. “I thought, ‘What do I really want to do in life?’ My passion lies in the classroom, so I’m going back to the classroom.”

He will officially leave the post he has held for the past 13 years in August. We thank McAteer for his significant contributions to our schools and are happy to know his heart is leading him to a place that will allow him to continue to serve our students.

Finally, it’s time to say farewell to so many wonderful educators who have given so much of their lives to our area schools. At least 30 teachers – many whose careers have spanned 30 years and more – are retiring next month. Their departure will certainly be felt by a high school district recognized as being among the best in the state. Our local schools have long been an attraction to parents looking to live in a place capable of providing their children with a quality education.

We hope the leadership vacuum and sudden loss of so many good teachers will not cause us to slip in that lofty stature. Both McAteer and Deetz have done a great job trying to ensure that does not happen. We are also fortunate to have citizen school board members (who dedicate many hours for little or no money) working hard to provide the kind of education our community has prided itself in for so many years.


Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Margaret Burlew: Mining is our history


I am writing in regards to the “Stop the Mines” signs I am seeing around town. Grass Valley is known to be a mining town. If not for the mines our beautiful city might not…

See more