From Superintendent to ‘Citizen’
Chamber names Kobza Eudora’s ‘Citizen of the Year’
Amidst the elementary school drawings of galaxies and snowmen, the superintendent of Eudora schools had something else hanging from his office walls last week signs congratulating Eudora's newest Citizen of the Year.
In the four and a half years President Keith Turnbaugh has been with the Eudora Chamber of Commerce, this marks the first year he can remember naming a citizen who wasn't a business owner in the traditional sense.
"From year to year we never know who it's going to be," he said.
As USD 491 superintendent, however, Citizen of the Year 2002 Marty Kobza oversees the day-to-day business of tapping a valuable resource and producing a priceless commodity.
When the chamber met in December to discuss candidates, it took notice of Kobza's influence on Eudora children's education through his instrumental role in getting voters to pass the $16 million bond issue for the new high school.
"We just kind of tried to think what the most important thing was that happened in town," Turnbaugh said. "It just came down to the bond issue."
Although the Eudora schools may not be a business in the traditional sense, they are a member of the chamber, and Turnbaugh said the consensus was the school district affected the community positively.
"There were a lot of problems last year with the superintendent," he said. "Marty stepped in and got everything in line, and I guess the school board decided to put the bond issue out because Marty was doing a good job."
Receiving the honor at the chamber's annual dinner Feb. 16 came "absolutely unexpectedly," Kobza said. The award presentation came on the heels of a speech about the district's move forward.
The district's progress over the last year included Kobza moving up from Eudora High School principal and sliding into the driver's seat as superintendent mid-semester.
"It was a challenge; it still is," he said.
"The more you think you know, the less you (realize you) actually know," Kobza added, smiling.
The district's staff and educationally supportive community made Kobza's adjustment to the new position easier.
"I learn from them every day," he said.
The United Way of Douglas County also bestowed Kobza with the honor of a nomination to sit on its governing body.
Executive Director Jo Bryant said Kobza was the first Eudora nominee in the four years she's been with the United Way of Douglas County. She said the United Way provided assistance to Eudorans through visiting nurses, hospice and other agencies that provide food, clothing and shelter to Douglas County residents.
However, Kobza said work on his dissertation this spring and splitting time between his jobs as superintendent, husband to wife, Nicke, and father to Rayah, Jaxn, Teghn and Zaveah, would have made serving on the board virtually impossible.
Despite his newfound title, Kobza attributes his success to support from the community rather than personal achievement.
"Regardless of who's in this position or other positions in the district, the district will continue to be a success because of people who send their kids to school here," he said.