Stickney leaving legacy in two school districts
By BECKY BROOKS
As the Clyde Elementary Principal completes her last year — her Victory Lap – Peggy Stickney’s 31 years as a principal and an educator may have a profound affect on not only Clyde-Green Springs students but also those in the Bellevue City Schools.
Sitting in her new office at Clyde Elementary, Stickney had to close the door. The only way children would not wander in to talk to her would be if the door was closed, she explained. Even then, she warned there was still at least one student who would not let a door stop him from seeing Mrs. Stickney.
The Elyria High School graduate completed her education degree at Bowling Green State University and started teaching in 1981–82. After graduation, the current principal met Joe Stickney, and they got married. She started teaching for Bellevue City Schools in 1982–83. Her husband taught at Clyde-Green Springs.
Peggy Stickney became a near-20 year teacher at Bellevue Middle School.
“Then I got my master’s in 1985. Then I got my principal’s certificate in Findlay in 2001.”
She moved from BMS to becoming assistant principal at York School for two years.
“Then I came here,” she said. Stickney left York and took over as principal at Vine Street School for Clyde-Green Springs.
For Stickney, the staff at Vine Street School became a family, and she truly enjoyed each year there working with the children and staff, she said.
“I closed those doors, moved the marble pillars and came to Clyde Elementary,” she said smiling.
As she was moving closer to retirement, the Clyde-Green Springs Exempted Village School District took advantage of the Ohio School Facility Commission program. The community passed a 1-percent income tax to build two new schools, renovate the high school and South Main School – plus demolish three buildings including her Vine Street School.
The planned called for the staffs of Vine and South Main Street schools to merge into one building – Clyde Elementary School (formerly South Main).
“The year before we merged I was meeting with a leadership team of teachers,” Stickney said. While the South Main Principal, Rod McMaster was still in his building – preparing to retire himself — Stickney was overseeing Vine and laying the foundation for a new elementary school staff at Clyde Elementary.
“It’s not that it wasn’t easy; it was a challenge,” she admitted. “It was an experience I certainly never thought I would have near the end of my career.
As she prepared for the new school, she was merging the personalities of two buildings.
“We wanted to get a common vision for the kids,” she said.
Stickney — better than most — understands the challenges being faced this year by Bellevue City Schools where three elementary buildings will be merging into one, three-story elementary school by the start of school 2012–13.
“I actually spent a half day with Shannon Turner, one of my former students,” Stickney said about sharing her notes and experience on the Clyde Elementary merger.
“I shared my leadership team notebook with her.”
Merging staffs was not something she ever planned to handle as a principal.
“It was something I never thought I would learn,” commented the Clyde Elementary principal who officially retires June 26. Clyde Middle School Assistant Principal Rachel Aldrich will be taking over Clyde Elementary from Stickney.
The current CES principal said that bringing multiple buildings staffs together is a challenge. The concentration was doing what was best for the children. Some staff members do resist change, she admitted.
“I found it was a lot easier not to worry about that,” Stickney commented. “The rest are going along for the ride.”
The principal said, “You move ahead doing what you know is right.”
As for Turner – she is currently principal of both Bellevue’s Ridge Elementary and Ellis Elementary Schools.
At the new Bellevue Elementary School, Turner will be one of the two building principals.
Stickney, as a former BMS reading and language arts teacher, estimated she taught nearly 3,000 students over her years at Bellevue.
“I read a lot of books with a lot of kids,” she pointed out. “I would not trade one of those years.”
Currently three of her former language arts students are now Bellevue City School administrators — Turner; and the administrative team at Bellevue Middle school – principal John Bollinger and assistant principal Cody Cramer. The newest of Stickney’s one-time students joining the BCS administration will be Nate Artino – who has been named at Bellevue Senior High School’s new principal taking his post this summer.
“I called him when he got the job,” Stickney said about congratulating Artino. “He sounds so committed.”
As much as Stickney loved teaching at Bellevue, she lived in Clyde at the time, and there was that community rivalry.
“I was always the reminder that there were nice people in Clyde,” she said about being a Bellevue teacher.
When the job opened at Vine Street School, she made the move. “I never left a job I didn’t love,” she said about leaving BMS and York. “Coming here was a great thing for me,” she said about going to Vine.
Stickney – now only weeks away from leaving her newest school – said all of best memories of the last 31 years are about students.
At BMS, she remembers teaching students while reading a novel and then playing the movie based on the same novel. She said students would become upset by the changes and interpretations of the movie director which did not match how they envisioned the novel – and she truly enjoyed that dedication by her kids.
“Teaching the eighth grade about the Holocaust,” she said, “was very, very emotional for me. I learned as they learned.”
When her students became involved in the lesson they were learning without even knowing they were learning, she shared.
As principal, Stickney said she still has concentrated on the students and bringing families together and interacting with the school. “I’m all about school being the safe and happy place,” she stressed.
“You’re gonna get a smile and you can hug there.”
Stickney, whose husband is retired and who has two adult sons, said she does not yet know what retirement will bring.
“I have to find out what it’s like to not work,” she admitted. After working with the Clyde Elementary’s staff, she may enjoy mentoring young teachers and working in team building in the future, she commented.
But, she noted, there could also be some time in Florida in her future.