A Parker Elementary School student’s trumpet sat on top of a desk in the school’s administrative office, at the front of the school, Tuesday evening.
The school’s principal, Kevin Yard, was to deliver the instrument to the student, until he got word the student was on her way to pick it up.
He no longer had an obligation to leave his office and deliver it, but with a smile on his face told the desk attendant he would meet the girl halfway and proceeded down the hall, instrument in hand.
“I enjoy helping the kids,” Yard said Tuesday.
He has been doing so since February 1999, when he took on the role of principal for the elementary school. But that will come to an end in about 13 days as Yard is set to retire at 55 years old.
His retirement is due to a contractual obligation, which requires Yard to retire at 55, but he said the timing is right.
The elementary school was re-identified as a focus school — a school that must improve in a certain area — earlier this year. Parker has to improve how disadvantaged students perform on tests. Part of the process for being placed on the list is the state periodically performs assessment reviews on the school. Yard said there has been a lot of positive feedback coming from those reviews and he believes he’ll be leaving the school in good shape.
There is no unfinished business, either, Yard said. He has enjoyed his time working with the staff and students, and being able to facilitate the students’ thinking and discovery of new things has been the most rewarding to him, he said.
His passion for teaching and helping kids began when he was a young student himself, he said. His teachers were role models to him, especially his band teacher, Rodney Jennings, who he said helped him to set goals and build confidence in himself.
He began teaching as a teacher’s aide in Orwell, Oswego County, in 1980.
“I loved the work and decided that I needed to get a teaching degree so that I could impact learners on a different level,” Yard said.
He went to SUNY Oswego to obtain his bachelor’s degree, then began teaching in Syracuse in 1985. Five years later, he obtained his master’s degree in literacy at Syracuse University and then returned to SUNY Oswego for his administrative certificate, which he obtained in 1998.
With a set of high-level degrees and years of teaching experience on his resume, Yard went looking for an administrative position. He said he wanted to work for an elementary school because his teaching style fit best with that level of students. After evaluating the schools that were hiring, Parker Elementary was the best fit.
“I saw they had good values,” Yard said. “They had a responsive classroom philosophy and relationships were key.”
All of which Yard worked hard to continue and improve during his time at the school. And that commitment is why faculty, students and parents are sad to see him leave.
“It’s tough,” said Vickey Tobin, a teaching assistant at the school. “He’s been a good leader and personal role model. The kids were sad, even the sixth-graders who won’t be here next year.”
Christina Ramiza has two daughters, Sophia and Victoria, who are in kindergarten and third grade, respectively, at the school. She said it is really sad to see Yard leave.
“He is an awesome elementary principal,” Ramiza said. “He did many things with the kids.”
One of those things is the establishment of the Recess Leadership Committee, comprising Yard and five fifth-grade students. The purpose of the committee is for the students to address any issues happening during recess and come up with a solution to fix them.
Fifth-grader Vincenzo Perfetti, who is on the committee, said he enjoys the experience because it makes him feel like he is making a change, and is sad that Yard will no longer be a part of it.
“I love our principal,” Perfetti said. “He puts on a lot of organizations for students, like the recess committee. I hope our next principal does as good of a job.”
Dryden Elementary Principal Joshua Bacigalupi will take over as principal for the upcoming school year.
Once he retires, Yard said he plans to help his wife, Tamara, with her dance studio in Tully, continue his stained-glass work and enjoy time on his boat.