Principal retires, two others announce retirement

One 29-year member of Wapakoneta City Schools administrative staff parted ways with the district and two others announced plans to retire this week.

Wapakoneta Middle School Principal Ray Payne was recognized for 29 years of service by Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members during a regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

“You have been compassionate about kids and passionate about school improvement,” Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner said.

Recalling Payne’s career and how people interacted with him, Horner said it was obvious how genuine it is.

“We have been lucky to have you,” Horner said.

Payne said one of the things he learned quickly about the job is that he couldn’t do it by himself.

“I always felt privileged to be part of this particular team,” Payne said.

As he retired this week, Payne said he is looking forward to new challenges at this point in his life. He aspired to help student teachers, possibly at the college level.

He was first hired by Wapakoneta City Schools as a math teacher in 1983. Before that he spent eight years teaching in Colorado, some time as a graduate teaching assistant and one year teaching at St. Joseph School.

He taught for 17 years in the district before becoming assistant principal and then principal at Wapakoneta Middle School.

He described his retirement as bittersweet.

“You develop relationships with all the people you work with,” Payne said. “I think the quality of people in Wapakoneta City Schools is phenomenal.”

He said after discussions with his wife, Becky, to whom he’s been married 40 years, he decided it was time to retire.

“So many little things just make it seem to fit, both professionally and personally,” Payne said. “I’ve been around the block long enough to know I can easily be replaced.”

Announcing plans to retire next year were Wapakoneta City Schools Treasurer Susan Rinehart on May 31 and Director of Instruction Julie Miars Golden on Jan. 31.

Wapakoneta City Schools Board Member Ron Mertz said he appreciated the extra notice they gave and the time to find replacements, although he didn’t think there would ever be enough years to find anyone who could completely fill their shoes.

“I won’t get to vote how I want on this,” Mertz said. “Their retirements will not just put a hole, but a crater, in the district.”

Horner said Golden’s impact had been tremendous and across several different areas, while Rinehart had come into the district at a time when there was barely enough money to run the district for a day and kept it running financially sound without any trouble.

“This is going to be a huge transition with these positions,” Horner said.

Both were hired into the district in 1992 from jobs where they gained prior experience.

Golden started as an assistant principal and then principal before transitioning to the director of instruction in 2001, while Rinehart was hired into the district as a treasurer.

Rinehart’s position is to be replaced, as the district by law has to have a treasurer. The Board of Education would have to develop a strategy on finding her replacement.

Horner said plans are to distribute Golden’s duties among different administrators.

“She does a ton of things a lot of people don’t see,” Horner said, specifically mentioning Golden’s work with federal grants, personnel issues, curriculum alignment and ensuring compliance with the state among other duties.

“There are three pages of things she does,” Horner said. “We will do the best we can.”