The smiles, hugs, and relationships are what have defined nearly 100 years of combined educational experience for three Edmond Public School elementary principals who are retiring at the end of the current school year.
The three principals: Cathey Bugg with Heritage, Penny Gooch with Orvis Risner, and Jessele Miller with Centennial, have a heart for watching children grow and succeed.
“It is all about family. You create a family with your teachers and your children,” Bugg said.
During their time with Edmond, all three recall great times and funny memories, including Gooch who fell in the mud in front of a group of kindergartners. Her demonstration of how to swing ended with the swing breaking and her falling. “And that was back when I was skinny,” laughed Gooch.
Luckily, a family member brought her fresh clothes, but it was that memory that helped her understand a young child’s perspective when accidents happen at school, she said.
Each principal has experienced a wave of change since they started in the late 1980s and 90s, including technology and common standards for improving education.
“Edmond is always known for being cutting edge and a part of the change,” Bugg said. “I have learned right along with the students.”
“During the pandemic, a device in the hands of every student helped bridge the gap when in-person learning wasn’t possible,” Miller said.
Even with advancements in technology and curriculum, each said they will miss relationships with their teachers, children and parents the most.
“That day in August is going to come and I won’t be there; I won’t be there with the teachers; I won’t be there to say good morning to the children, and I won’t be there to give them hugs,” Bugg said, fighting back tears.
“I will miss the relationships with other adults and the excitement in children’s eyes when they learn a new concept,” Gooch said. “Children are the greatest blessing and they are our future” she added.
“I’ll never forget the fulfillment and fun I have found working with the Centennial Elementary team towards the common goal of educating our students,” Miller said.
All three plan to spend more time with family after retiring, saying their families have sacrificed so much to let them follow their dreams as educators and administrators.
“I’m looking forward to a schedule that is more flexible and traveling with family and friends,” Miller said.
Of the three principals taking over the retiring principals role, two are from within the district. Kimberly Frank (current principal at Washington Irving Elementary) will serve at Heritage and Kyle Harrison (current assistant principal at Northern Hills) will serve at Orvis Risner. The new Centennial principal, Ellie Adkins Webb, is an educator from the Keller Texas Independent School District.
Nearly 90 teachers, coaches, administrators and support staff members are retiring from Edmond Public Schools at the end of this school year. Some have spent their entire careers in the district. In total, the retirees have given 1,824 years of service to the district.