Brie Miller, a new intervention specialist at Hayes High School, recognized Assistant Superintendent Craig Heath at new teacher orientation last week, but couldn’t place him.
It was only after she asked him if he’d ever taught in Hilliard that she remember that Heath was her principal when she was in sixth grade. Miller graduated from Hilliard in 2015 and was hired this year after she finished her education at Bowling Green State University.
“Running into my old principal was just kind of cool,” Miller said. “He used to be a principal and now he’s assistant superintendent. It’s cool to see how everyone is progressing in their career.”
Heath said that amusingly enough, a former student of his had just left the district to take a position elsewhere, so he wasn’t expecting to see any familiar faces in his first year with the district.
“Lo and behold, I’m older than I thought and here she is, one of my sixth grade students becoming a teacher,” Heath said. “It’s so much fun to reconnect.”
Superintendent Heidi Kegley said she’s been fortunate to have plenty of former students return to the district to teach, including Keith Butts, a new physical science teacher at Hayes this year, but didn’t expect Heath to have the experience.
“I’ve had tons of teachers who were my former students but for Craig to have one, it’s great,” Kegley said. “When we hired (Butts) for his first teaching position this summer, I texted all his former teachers. It’s so neat for them to see that he had taken that step and that they had made such an impact on him as a student.”
Kegley said the impact staff has on students can’t be understated.
“That’s what we want all school staff to know; whether your a teacher, custodian, bus driver, food service, school-aged child care, you’re having an impact on kids every day, and this is an opportunity to celebrate that,” Kegley said. “We are so incredibly proud of them.”
Butts, a Hayes Class of 2011 graduate, said he had a long-term substitute position at Dempsey Middle School a few years ago and was brought on last year to run the APEX course at Hayes, which helps students get the credits to graduate on time and prepare for college, but he’s had his sights set on teaching science.
“Physical science is your first hands-on learning experience with science in high school,” Butts said. “In my opinion, it determines whether you’ll love science or not.”
Butts said it’s a lot of responsibility, but he’s driven to do the best job possible.
“Me being a competitor fuels me to be the best teacher I can be,” said Butts, who is also a football coach at Hayes and coaches the freshman basketball team.
Butts said seeing Kegley at new teacher orientation made the position feel real in his mind.
“That’s where everything became official,” he said. “I’d been in the district but being officially inaugurated in the district meant a lot to me.”
Heath said it says a lot about Delaware City Schools that former students and graduates from other districts want to teach here.
“They’ve gone through our education systems and for them to want to get into this profession and give back to students and really engage with our community, that’s the best thing,” Heath said. “The next superintendent could be in that group.”
Kegley said returning students like Butts show that the district is honoring tradition.
“By honoring our tradition, we are achieving excellence,” she said. “Those students that once attended here are now coming to give back to our community and that’s making us stronger and stronger, and it’s providing valuable experiences for our children.”
Miller said she’s looking forward to the first day of school.
“I’m excited to be here,” she said. “I’m most looking forward to building those relationships because of how welcoming the school is in general. You get that community feel.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.