By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — After more than 45 years in public education as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent, Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation, is retiring at the end of this month. During the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee School Board Tuesday evening, Dec. 8, in Syracuse, several current or former Wawasee administrators took time to share positive memories of their associations with Edington.
Lee Snider, principal of North Webster Elementary, said Edington has “shown kindness in very difficult circumstances,” referring specifically to difficult family situations that have arisen the last few years. Eric Speicher, principal of Syracuse Elementary, said, “Dr. Edington just let us go with it on many occasions.”
In the spring of 2017 while Syracuse Elementary was still under construction, Edington came to Speicher and said he should arrange for the students to take a tour of the building. Speicher said he thought Edington was kidding, and he wondered if it was such a good idea. “But the kids just loved it,” Speicher said.
Geoff Walmer, principal of Wawasee High School, said Edington was his first superintendent as both a teacher and principal. “His support has been unwavering,” Walmer said.
Brent Berkeypile, principal of Wawasee Middle School, said he recalled after a snowstorm a few years ago hearing a snowblower in his driveway and looking out the window and seeing Edington operating the snowblower. Vince Beasley, director of the Pathways Cooperative and a former assistant principal at the high school, said he was doing a walk-through checking on the progress of a building trades project house being built and saw Edington up on the roof putting shingles on it.
“He (Edington) did a little bit of everything all the time,” Beasley said.
Jim Evans, former director of finance for the school corporation, said Edington knew many students by name, and “they (students) knew him, too.”
Don Bokhart, school board member, said one thing standing out to him about Edington is his decision-making process always being guided “by what is best for students.” Rebecca Linnemeier, school board president, read a long list of community organizations or clubs Edington is currently involved in.
Edington has served as superintendent of Wawasee since January 2008, and during his brief report to the school board near the end of the meeting, he said, “I didn’t know this would be happening,” referring to the many positive testimonials about him. He thanked the school board for giving him opportunities and said he believes the future of Wawasee schools is positive. His retirement effective Dec. 31 was officially approved by the board.
In other business, assistant superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer noted there have been approximately 390 quarantines due to COVID-19 throughout the school corporation within the last month, which is down from 600 about a month ago. He said since Nov. 16 all school buildings, with the exception of one day, have had an attendance rate of at least 80%.
As of Dec. 4, there have been 94 positive cases of COVID-19. “I think that is pretty good considering there are 3,500 people coming into our buildings every day,” he said.
If the county goes to a red status, both middle schools and the high school will go to virtual learning, but the elementary schools will stay open as long as possible. Troyer noted it is much more difficult for elementary students to learn in the virtual mode, and there are also child care issues.
Other agenda items included:
• The school corporation donated five iPads to New Beginnings Preschool & Child Care.
• The board approved a $902 K.E.Y.S. grant through the Kosciusko County Community Foundation for a Hot Wheels speedometry educational kit for STEM that will be used at Syracuse Elementary School.
• School corporation employees raised nearly $4,000 for the 2020-21 United Way campaign.
• Approximately 50 turkeys and 25 meal baskets were provided by Wawasee Building Trades students, teacher Aaron McKinley and the building trades advisory board that were given to Wawasee families during the Thanksgiving holiday.
• The board approved gifts from Will and Rebecca Linnemeier in the amounts of $1,000 to the Pathways Cooperative and $10,000 to a student success fund.
• The board approved Liberty Mutual as the insurance provider through Northern Lakes Insurance for the school corporation at a premium of $485,700 for 2020-21.
• Among the personnel recommendations approved by the board was the resignation of Don Ritter, facilities director, effective Dec. 4.