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Chuck Rantala of Hohokam Elementary named an ‘exemplary principal’ at SUSD celebration

Photo of Chuck Rantala
From left are SUSD Chief Financial Officer Shannon Crosier; Executive Director of Elementary Education Margaret Serna; Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Dr. Milissa Sackos; Director of Communications and Marketing Kristine Harrington; Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel; Hohokam Elementary Principal Chuck Rantala; Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson; State & Federal Programs Coordinator Shawn Crosier; Hohokam Assistant Principal Maggie Finan; and Associate Superintendent Dr. Karen Benson. (Submitted Photos/DigitalFreePress)

Chuck Rantala honored by Maricopa County School Superintendent

By Kristine Harrington | SUSD

The assistant principal’s challenge?

To hide nearly 500 elementary school students and more than 70 teachers and staff from their principal for 30 minutes.


To surprise him with a special celebration for having been named a 2024 Maricopa County Exemplary Principal.

The best hiding place?

The school’s multipurpose room.

They pulled it off.

Hohokam Elementary School Principal Chuck Rantala had no idea what was in store when he ducked under a banner blocking the room’s doorway on a recent afternoon.

Inside, the multitude of students, staff, family members, Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson, Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent (SUSD) Dr. Scott Menzel and top district officials were waiting.

Mr. Watson congratulated Mr. Rantala on his selection, saying he was honored to include the 11-year Hohokam leader among the Maricopa County’s top principals this year.

“Chuck is a strengths-based and human-centered leader who inspires all those around him,” Mr. Watson extolled. “He has created a culture at Hohokam where students, staff, and the community feel valued, connected, and celebrated.”

For his part, Mr. Rantala admitted to being completely surprised by the festivities, secretly organized by Assistant Principal Maggie Finan, a few school insiders, and the school’s Association of Parents and Teachers.

“The whole thing was just incredibly humbling. Humbling and surprising,” Mr. Rantala declared afterward. “I was stunned for many, many days.”

Mr. Rantala was especially surprised by the presence of his parents, Peggy and Chuck Jr., who drove all the way from Charlotte, in south central Michigan, to be part of the event. It took them five days.

“I’m pretty good at what I do,” Mr. Rantala said. “but they’re still my parents and I’m still their kid, so for them to see that I am appreciated and admired means a lot.”

Mr. Rantala began his career in education at SUSD’s Mountainside Middle School in 1995. He was a classroom teacher for 12 years, including seven years at the former Supai (now Tonalea) Middle School, and has been a building administrator since 2007.

It is his 18th year in SUSD’s Coronado Learning Community. Mr. Rantala holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College in Michigan and a Master of Education degree from Northern Arizona University.

“Mr. Rantala is a true servant leader,” observed Dr. Menzel. “He puts the interests of kids and staff first, and you can feel the positive energy on the Hohokam campus as a result of the leadership he brings. It was really exciting to celebrate him with his students and staff.”

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