The new principal said a sense of unity and excitement drew her to the community.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LEETONIA -- Tracy Early has a new job in a brand new school.
In fact, even Early's position of elementary principal is new to the Leetonia school district.
The district's nearly 900 pupils will begin the school year Sept. 4 in a $17 million facility on Walnut Street.
The building replaces Washingtonville Elementary, Orchard Hill Elementary and the junior-senior high.
Early is elementary principal, overseeing about 300 pupils in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Beth Goerig, who was principal of both Orchard Hill and Washingtonville schools, is now middle school principal, overseeing the fifth through eighth grades.
John Rydarowicz, former principal of the junior-senior high -- seventh through 12th grades -- is high school principal (ninth through 12th grades).
Early said since she started June 15, she has been getting acquainted with the school's layout and the district's policies and procedures. Kindergartners had orientation, and pupils and parents are attending orientation sessions by grade level.
Schedules and class lists are nearly completed, and teachers are working to prepare their classrooms for the school year.
She said teachers have been in the building for at least two weeks, many of them longer, as construction is completed and they are allowed in various parts of the building.
School officials had an open house Saturday to allow the community to tour the new school.
"Everything is new, and everyone needs some time for awe and marvel," Early said.
In the elementary wing are big, bright kindergarten rooms with carpeting; pupil lockers in each elementary classroom; science rooms with lots of space for lab work; and a teachers' workroom with storage space for projects.
All pupils share a combination auditorium and cafeteria, but elementary and middle school pupils have their own gymnasium.
Leetonia has a new attitude to go along with the new school, Early said. That new attitude is one of the main things that attracted her to the district.
"There's a lot of excitement here, not just in the schools, but the whole community," she said. "There's a sense of unity, and moving forward, a mind-set here that we're going to do everything we can to continually progress. That is very appealing."
Attracted to community
Early said she also applied for the Leetonia position because she enjoys working in a small community.
She grew up in Salem, where she still lives. She said she always wanted to be a teacher, and by high school she knew she wanted to be a principal.
"My mom said I was always teaching someone something," she said. "I had my Fisher-Price toy schoolhouse and I played with that all the time."
While she was attending Salem Schools, her mom was a secretary at Buckeye Elementary. Being around the office and the principals, she had a sense of the daily routine.
"I enjoy a leadership position and leading people to whatever our goal is," she said.
Early earned a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from Muskingum College and a master's degree in education administration at Youngstown State University.