Dr. Dennis Byas will retire Aug. 31.

SAN LORENZO | San Lorenzo School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Byas, made a surprised announcement Wednesday that he will retire Aug. 31 after spending six years at the head of the unincorporated area’s school district.

Byas couldn’t get three words into his speech without crying. He has commonly referred to his position as a lifestyle rather than a job and calls the district’s students “his kids.” A packed room felt for Byas’s speech as they encouraged him to finish with a round of applause.

“I have been fortunate to have been able to work beside you and live in this beautiful community,” said Byas, “The Lord has allowed me to have a blessed life and I now have the desire to go do the Lord’s work for the remainder of my life.”

Byas said he will never forget his community and its members who are the “most supportive and caring people in the nation.”

Byas started his career in education 23 years ago and said he fell in love with each and every one of the students he has had. “I discovered that each student had a different life and each of their lives had and has a very important story to tell. Many of the students have made me smile and many have made me cry,” said Byas, “But most importantly, each has touched me deeply and helped guide and fulfill my life.”

Byas, 62, said he is leaving to spend more time with his wife, his five children and his four grandchildren. “Time can’t be bought and it can’t earn interest, it can’t be extended it can only be spent,” said Byas with tears in his eyes. He couldn’t look up once from his podium, he said, because he feared he would cry more.

Byas came to a school district six years ago struggling with attendance issues and high expulsion rates. Byas helped reduce those to staggeringly low levels with much fanfare. And for much of that work Byas received many thanks after his speech with district staff and other attendees praising him. “Thank you so much,” said one attendee as she cried and hugged Byas.

Byas said he will convene with the board at a later date to help decide on a replacement.