Longtime Prosper ISD Superintendent Dr. Drew Watkins announced June 26 that he is retiring.


Watkins has led the district for 18 years.


In a written statement he called the decision to retire "difficult."


"I have the best job serving the absolute best community," he wrote. "However, the harsh reality is that I cannot completely heal while sitting in this seat, and this amazing district deserves the most from its leader."


In 2018, Watkins was injured in an accident that occurred while he was running near his home.


"I challenge all the new hires each year that if they cannot give every ounce of their being to the students they serve, then be honest with yourself and step away because the work is too important," he wrote. "Well, I would be a hypocrite if I did not take my own advice, so here we are."


Watkins, who has been in education for 34 years, said he feels "extremely fortunate to have served this community for 18 years in a state where the average tenure for the superintendent is about 3 years."


He added that he is "more grateful than proud" for the opportunity to have served the district’s students and families.


"Grateful for the grace when I have fallen short of your expectations - grateful for the thoughts and prayers since day one but particularly after my accident - grateful for the love shown to me and my family during the many challenges we have faced together - and eternally grateful for a moment in time `I’ got to be a part of `WE’ are Prosper.’"


The Prosper ISD Board of Trustees will begin the process to find the superintendent’s replacement, who he assured would be "equally committed to all things PISD." However, no date was specified when that search may get underway.


"The district will no doubt be confronted with many challenges in the fall with opening three new schools while managing the particulars surrounding COVID-19," Watkins said, adding the board requested and he has agreed to remain in position "for an appropriate time to assist with the leadership transition.


"I would be lying if I didn't say this is a very emotional decision for me, but I keep reminding myself of the immortal words of the great philosopher Dr. Seuss, `Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.’"


News of Watkins’ retirement spread quickly on local social media pages.


Many who posted comments in response to the announcement expressed sadness about Watkins’ impending departure from the district, thanked him for his years of service and wished him well.