Leh retiring, but not done yet
June 01, 2011 - A job perk for Springfield Plains Elementary principal KC Leh is walking down the Kindergarten hallway and visiting a classroom on a bad day.
|From left, first-graders Jacob Adams, Jermecca Herring, Vanessa Chapin, Adam Ehremberger and Springfield Plains Elementary Principal KC Leh work on a stamp project. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)|
The instant reaction from the students and the hugs makes the day into a better one.
"They love you unconditionally," said Leh who retires this year after working in education for 36 years. "They don't care. Their teacher will be teaching and they will look over and scream excitedly 'Mrs. Leh is here!' like you are a superstar. They will wrap their arms around you and give you a hug."
Leh still has mixed emotions about retiring but is looking forward to spending time with her husband and the rest of her family.
"My husband retired last year," she added saying a plus to retiring now is they still have good health and have the ability to do things.
One of their plans includes going up north to their cottage and enjoying being outside biking, kayaking and more.
"We love to travel," she said. "I anticipate we will do more of that and in the fall this time. I am going to walk across the Mackinaw Bridge late on Labor Day because I can."
Another destination on their list is going to Greece.
Though excited for the fall she knows it will be hard not to get reved up about the new school year, see returning faces or get to know new students
"I enjoy the staff. I love the kids," she said. "They make my day."
She will also miss the fun things the students say like a first grader coming up to her in the hallway and sharing his mom explained Leh's retirement as a permanent vacation or the Kindergartener who added Leh was expiring soon.
"That is my new motto - I have no expiration date," Leh smiled. "I can do stuff as long as I want. But it's that - what comes out of the mouths of babes. You have to sit back and listen to the kids and enjoy them. You have to have a sense of humor. You have to laugh a lot."
Leh plans to still be in education and become a mentor to new principals in Oakland County.
"I don't see myself being done," she said. "I will be involved with principals, teachers and kids in a different capacity then I am doing now which is kind of exciting. It is something new."
Leh began her education career as a teacher and knew as a child she wanted to be in the profession.
After 17 years her career path changed when she thought about being a principal and went back to school for her masters in Guidance and Counseling. A twist of fate in Linden School District led her to be interim principal.
"What a wonderful way to practice," she said. "How often do you get to do something for five months to see if you want to do it."
She remained principal and went back to school for Masters in Leadership and the certificates she needed.
Leh came to Clarkston when she decided to change districts after five years. She began at Pine Knob Elementary and was there for 10 years. The district asked her to move to Springfield Plains after Dr. Sharon Devereaux, the school's first principal passed away suddenly four years ago.
"When I think about the quote 'it takes a village to raise a child' it goes for the school district as well," she said. "The hardest job anyone could have is a parent first. Just when you think you have something figured out something happens. Clarkston is very fortunate with the caliber of teachers they have in the district.
"Through the next few years and the budget turmoil of the state the parents and teachers still need to collaborate and work together. Bottom line, you want your child to have a great year in first grade either there are three more students in the classroom or not. They are the future. They will be keeping us going when we are old."
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.