Think back to the summer of 2008 and of the turmoil at Riverside-Brookfield High School. Just remember for a second what that felt like.

A main reason things no longer feel like that is largely due to David Bonnette, who came out of retirement (again) to take the helm of a school district that had lost direction from a leadership point of view.

Bonnette walked out of the door for the final time last Thursday, the end of a two-year stint as interim superintendent. It was not the kind of interim spot Bonnette could ever have wished for himself. Likely far longer than he anticipated and responsible for incredibly important decisions that will affect the school for many years down the road.

After taking care of command and control issues inside the building, ones he could reasonably be expected to manage as a part-time fill-in, Bonnette played important roles in the selection of a new principal, a new athletic director and a new superintendent. He also played a critical role in shepherding a tax referendum process and trying to tamp down some overzealous advocacy from inside the building.

These were some huge issues to place in the hands of an interim manager. And not everyone on the board that hired Bonnette for the job was convinced initially he was the right man for the job. His appointment was not unanimous.

He convinced them through his determined hard work to right the ship on Ridgewood Road. Bonnette didn’t do fancy things at RBHS. He did the hard things, ones that – in his own words – were not a whole lot of fun. Cutting budgets, cutting staff, taking personal hits from critics (many of them anonymous) out for blood to rectify past transgressions not of Bonnette’s making.

When Bonnette first retired from education as superintendent of Riverside District 96, he walked away with a smile on his face and a heap of praise on his shoulders. He walks away from RBHS with a sigh of relief from a heavy burden removed from his shoulders and amid whispers he could have done better.

Bonnette did great.

Put in a difficult position from the start, Bonnette never shirked the mantle of responsibility for all aspects of running Riverside-Brookfield High School. He tightened policies. He cracked down on non-residency. He reconfigured the athletic department and sent a strong message about what should be deemed appropriate.

He was always responsive, always available, even during the tensest times of his tenure at the school during the height of the referendum campaign fight.

Bonnette didn’t solve all of RBHS’ problems during his two-year tenure. That he was asked as an interim to solve so many of them is a testament to his dedication to education and the confidence of the community in which he lives.

Thanks, Dave, for putting the community’s interest before your own. We wish you the best in retirement.