Tears could be seen in the eyes of many when the Ohio County Board of Education announced the retirement of Nikki Kacmarik, principal of Madison Elementary School, Monday after 35 years of educating the youth of Ohio County.
Board President James Jorden said Kacmarik is known in the community as a trusted figure who cares for the entire well-being of the children and families of Wheeling Island, as well as a positive example for teachers and administrators across the county. He described her as a "leader among her peers."
"She spent her entire career in one school," Jorden noted. "That's very unusual, but it also just shows the dedication she has had to that school and how loved she is in the Wheeling Island community. When you talk to the Island residents, Ms. Kacmarik is part of the Wheeling Island community. She is beloved."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Nikki Kacmarik, principal of Madison Elementary School, receives a plaque from James Jorden, president of the Ohio County Board of Education, honoring her career as a leader in education in Ohio County. Kacmarik will retire from her position as principal in June after 35 years in education at Madison Elementary.
Kacmarik began her career at Madison in 1978 as a first-grade teacher before teaching third grade. In 2001, Kacmarik became principal of Madison and has served in that position for 12 years.
Kacmarik spearheaded the school's Anchor Program, which offers academic help and tutoring, transportation and dinner for at-risk students at Madison Elementary, Triadelphia Middle School and Wheeling Park High School. She also is known for being the leader of a school that cares for children beyond their traditional education by housing both the Ohio County Dental Clinic and a mental health center with a full-time psychologist.
"I think what I'm most proud of is we serve our students as a whole child and try to meet all of their needs not just academically, but socially, emotionally and mentally," Kacmarik said. "We provide support for their families as well. These children will hopefully go on to graduate from high school and then further their lives either in post-secondary education or a career. To me, that's the greatest achievement."
Kacmarik said she hopes to remain active in education by getting involved at the higher education level or mentoring young teachers.
"Thirty-five years have just flown by," Kacmarik said. "It's hard to believe. When you do what you love, the time flies by very quickly."
The board also approved hiring Susan Fox-Nolte as the new principal of Warwood School for the 2013-14 academic year. Fox-Nolte was hired as assistant principal for Warwood School this past August after serving as principal of Leona Middle School in Shadyside for four years.
The board also voted to suspedbus operator Raymond Scheutz without pay for 15 instructional days. Superintendent Dianna Vargo classified the suspension as a personnel matter and declined to comment.