Retiring educator: Gary Heard
School Orion Middle School
Who and what inspired you to become a teacher and a principal?
After my senior year, two of my favorite teachers asked me about going into teaching and coaching.
Why did you choose to become a principal?
A superintendent friend of mine talked me into it and recommended me. I also felt I could make a positive difference in some students’ and parents’ lives.
What were your biggest challenges as a principal? How did you handle them?
Balancing all the people decisions involving staff, students and parents, and being fair, open and honest.
Slowly, carefully and with a great sense of humor and encouragement.
What moments have been the most memorable in your career as a principal?
My relationships over 33 years with so many great students, teachers and parents. I have so many great people and communities.
What are your plans for your retirement?
I have some options and chores that are long in coming, but at first, absolutely nothing. I also need to volunteer back to communities, organizations and church.
Residence Rural Aledo
Education High school, Centralia; bachelor of science, Illinois State University; master of science and superintendent degrees, Western Illinois University
Experience Westmer High School, 16 years, teacher and coach; Roseville High School, five years, principal; OMS, 12 years, principal
Hobbies Chicago Bears, gardening and landscaping, chainsaws
Family Wife, Anita, choir director, Mercer County schools; son, Matthew, grower, Green Circle Growers, in Ohio; daughter, Emily, sophomore in special education, Illinois State University
Nominate a teacher
Do you know a teacher who deserves to be profiled? We’re looking for someone with an Orion area connection—someone who is (1) employed here, (2) lives here, employed elsewhere, or (3) graduated from Orion or used to live here.
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