Principal retires: Payne enjoyed teaching, coaching, staff

A man who has been in the education field for 39 years will be saying goodbye to the Wapakoneta City School District as he retires after this school year.

Wapakoneta Middle School Principal Ray Payne will soon be cleaning out his office and saying goodbye to fellow cohorts as he prepares for retirement. His last day is July 1.

“My wife (Becky) and I talked about it,” Payne said of retirement. “I’ve been in the education field for 39 years, and you get to a certain point in time where you start looking at the other side of the fence.”

Payne said he is looking forward to have an opportunity to spend more time with family and his hobbies, which include fishing and golfing.

With Payne’s four children and seven grandchildren living in California, Colorado, Hawaii and Troy, Payne said he will be doing more traveling during his time off to spend more time with them.

In addition, Payne said he may not be completely done with education, as he is looking into working with student-teachers through a local university’s student-teacher program.

Payne, who grew up in the West, spent most of his childhood in Colorado. He and his family made the move to Ohio, for his father’s job, where he finished up high school.

After high school, Payne attended the University of Northern Colorado, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He then went to graduate school at the University of Denver, where he earned his master’s degree in K-12 administration.

After college, Payne taught in Colorado for seven years, three years at the elementary level and four years at the high school level, before moving back to Ohio.

Before Payne became principal at the Wapakoneta Middle School in 2004, he was the assistant principal for three years, and prior to that, he was a teacher and a coach for the school district.

He taught math at the Wapakoneta High School and coached junior high and junior varsity boys basketball, eighth-grade girls basketball, varsity girls volleyball and also served as the assistant track coach during his career.

“I knew a long time ago I wanted to be a coach,” Payne said.

Coaching has been something Payne has enjoyed throughout the years.

Payne was not only dedicated to teaching and coaching the students, but he was dedicated to continuing to make Wapak-oneta City Schools a great place to learn.

“I enjoyed being a part of the development of the school improvements,” Payne said. “It’s one thing we work very hard at.

“I think we’ve really shown improvements,” Payne said of accomplishments during his career. “Not just me, but the development and coordination of the leadership team. I’ve enjoyed being apart of that.”

After Payne retires, he said he knows he will miss everyone.

“I’ll miss the relationships that you foster with the students, staff and fellow administration,” Payne said.

Payne said these relationships will never go away, it’s just that it is not the same when you go from seeing someone every day to seeing them every once in a while.

“I’ll miss seeing the kids and seeing the staff,” Payne said. “I always look forward to coming to school because of the students and staff. I feel very blessed.

Even though his residence is in Celina, Payne said that he feels like Wapakoneta is his home.

“I always tell people I live in Wapakoneta, but I sleep in Celina,” Payne said. “It’s a great community to be a part of and work in.”