One of my greatest blessings has been the opportunity to be a school administrator’s spouse. For the past 17 years, since marrying Larry Claypool, I have had this supportive role in the educational world. July 31 marked my 66-year-old husband’s official retirement date.
In June 2002, when Larry and I married, he was the director of student services for Van Wert County, and I was working in public information for Lima’s Apollo Career Center Adult Education, a position I held for a couple years. We were united in marriage and also personally united in the cause of giving students of all ages the best education that our public school system could provide.
This journey has been a joy. For instance, two short years after we married, Larry’s opportunity to become the middle/high school principal for Continental schools caused us to relocate to Continental, the closest place to Andy Griffith’s Mayberry I’ve ever seen. In that friendly village, we first learned about the acceptance of rural folks.
Renting a home just across the street from the school, we were deeply touched when greeted with the school sign, “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Claypool.” That very year in 2004-2005, we were also blessed with a Cinderella basketball team who took us on an exciting journey to the state finals in Columbus.
After a few years, it was on to the superintendent’s job at Hardin Northern schools for my hubby. Only there for several months, a much-needed levy passed by just 44 votes, providing funds for a multi-million dollar renovation. This resulted in a state-of-the-art facility that will provide opportunities for students for years to come.
During that season, I was humorously dubbed the project’s “Volunteer Public Relations Coordinator.” The school’s grand opening was an exhilarating community event, while purchasing a commemorative wall block is a forever memory for us as a couple.
Although there has been immense sadness as well. Early on, we learned about the unexpected and tragic phone calls a school administrator can receive. We got used to the phone ringing in the wee hours of the morning for weather calls regarding busing decisions. But when my husband would answer, “Oh no,” with shock and despair in his voice, I was instantly awakened knowing a tragedy had occurred, most likely involving a student.
You never get hardened to the pain and anguish of losing someone so young or the feeling of helplessness watching their loved ones grapple with their loss. That’s why one memory I wish I could erase is standing in funeral home lines, while my husband tried to comfort grieving parents, when there are no Earthly words that can do that.
You see, even though we share a wonderful son, those kids were our kids, too. That’s how you feel as an administrator and a spouse connected to the vision. The school and its needs always come first in your home because there is a weighty responsibility for the countless lives entrusted into an administrator’s care. Honestly, I won’t miss my spouse often working 14-hour days, but I will miss the way his face lit up when he saw his students.
The last assignment Larry accepted was in 2011, when he signed on as the superintendent of Hardin-Houston schools. We had prayed a lot about where we should go, realizing he would retire in less than a decade. A building project was nearing completion, and we purchased a second commemorative wall stone to celebrate the event. We also purchased our retirement home in Troy.
There were more school banquets, plays, sporting events and graduations, and sometimes I got to accompany my spouse. Personally, it was the graduations that always took my breath away. The excitement of a gymnasium filled with family and friends, colorful graduation gowns, ceremonial music and the rite of passage when a student proudly received a diploma. It has been such a privilege to have this supportive role and share in the lives of countless Ohio children through my husband’s position.
In the midst of the wonderful experiences and even during the heartbreaking times, Larry and I found one thing to be true. It is summed up in the statement on those two commemorative wall blocks. Along with our names forever etched in stone, it says, “God is faithful.” I leave you with those three important words and with sincere gratitude to everyone who somehow touched our lives along the way. Thank you, it has been such an honor!
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com