Principal Mr. Czajkowski will leave WHS alongside the class of 2023


Mackenzi Tatum

Principal Matthew Czajkowski announces his retirement after a storied career in the Woodhaven Brownstown School District.

MacKenzi Tatum, Staff Writer

Principal Matthew Czajkowski has decided to leave WHS alongside the class of 2023. Not only has Mr. Czajkowski been an important staff member in the WBSD, but he is also a Woodhaven parent. MacKenzi Tatum sat down with Mr. Czajkowski to discuss his retirement.

Students and staff alike love you. How did everyone react when they heard you were retiring? Mixed reviews, but everyone was positive. I did hear from many people “I wish you didn’t go” but all of them have been pretty happy that I do get to go and do get to enjoy life.

How long have you worked in the district? I have worked here for 28 years. I got hired in August of 95’ right out of Wayne State. I was lucky to get hired. I taught at Gudith Elementary for 3 years 5th and 6th grade. When the 6th graders moved over to BMS, I moved over. I taught there for 7 years. I taught English and math and then I got hired as the principal at Erving Elementary School where I stayed for 5 years, and for the last 13 years, I have been here. 

What made you want to leave the classroom and become a part of administration? When I was teaching, I took on a lot of leadership roles. I was the head of the Student Council, Safety Patrol, and School Improvement teams, and I served as a substitute principal. As I took on more of those leadership roles, I found more passion for that and felt that I could have a bigger impact in our district by leading more people than those in my classroom. 

After 28 years, what made you want to retire, and when did you first start thinking about this? I have been thinking about this for a year or two, in Michigan, when I was hired, after you’ve worked in a district for 30 years or more you can get a retirement pension from the state. I was lucky enough that when I was hired you could “buy years.” So, With my 28 years of service plus the 5 years I bought, I have 33 years of service with the state, so I do get some sort of retirement benefit when I retire. This allows me the flexibility that if I want to look for something down the road, I can. It got to the point where this job is a lot of work and a lot of stress, a lot of time, and I think it’d be time to move on and see if other opportunities pop up. I’m going to try and rest and relax for a while and see what happens. 

Being principal you have made many decisions, What do you think your biggest accomplishment in this role has been? I think that playing a small part in how Woodhaven High School has been seen from outside of the school has been something I’m proud of. When I first came to the school 13 years ago the reputation of our school wasn’t a great one. It was known for a lot of fighting, drug use, and a lot of trouble, and not a place that people were excited about going to. So I am proud now that it’s something that people see as a good place. It’s welcoming and comforting, and it’s doing a lot of great things inside and outside of the school. The community has grown around it. 

You are not just a WHS administrator, you’re also a WHS parent. Do you think it’s hard to separate these things? Trying to find that balance can be hard. I’ve never gone to a parent-teacher conference since my kids have gone here. It’s weird sitting across the table talking about my kid when I’m the boss of that individual. There are weird parts like going to the basketball game to cheer on my kid and having to be the principal of the school at the same time. There are pros and cons to it. Trying to find that balance has been fine, but it’s been a challenge balancing being a “dad” and principal. 

Do you think that you might come back or pick up extra things around the district? Yeah, in the state of Michigan, once you retire, you can’t come back for at least 9 months. So, in 9 months or a year if I’m bored, I might look at other opportunities to go back to work but for right now my intention is not to go back to work. I intend to retire and hang out and see what happens. 

What do you plan to do next? We bought a house on the water a year and a half ago– so I hope to spend some time on the water on the boat. Maybe I’ll do some fishing. My wife still has to work two more years, so she’ll be working and I’ll be at home. I don’t sit around a lot so I’ll find different projects to do around the house or friends’ houses that need stuff done. I’ll stay busy. I enjoy golfing, so I’ll do that as well. 

What will you miss most about working here? Definitely the relationships. That is my favorite part of being an educator– getting to know the kids, getting to know the staff, getting to know the parents– that’s what I’m going to miss the most. I talked to a former principal and they said the biggest problem for them when they retire is the need to be needed. Every day they walked in, someone needed something from them– someone to talk to, an interview, a problem, or more. He said when he retired, no one needed him anymore and the school moved on without him. So that may be the toughest transition for me but I’ll miss the relationships the most.