Longtime Sycamore educators set to retire

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-03 07:00:31-04

CINCINNATI -- Two longtime principals this summer will bid farewell to Sycamore Community Schools, retiring from careers that span over four decades.

School board members approved resignations for Maple Dale Elementary Principal Ron Brooks in February and E.H. Greene Intermediate Principal Phil Hackett in March. Both retirements will go into effect June 29.

“They’ve served this district so well, both of those gentlemen, for so many years,” said Frank Forsthoefel, superintendent for Sycamore Community Schools. “Both of them have left incredible legacies … at their schools that they have served.”

Brooks, who has worked in every Sycamore school except Blue Ash Elementary, has been principal at Maple Dale since 2002.

Maple Dale Elementary Principal Ron Brooks will retire this summer. Photo provided

He began his education career 44 years ago as a science, health and physical education teacher for Cincinnati Public Schools. He came to Sycamore in 1974 and in 1979 took on an assistant principal position at E.H. Greene.

He served in the role at two other buildings in the district as well, before taking a principal position in Lakota Local Schools. He returned to Sycamore in 1995, after an eight-year span in three different Lakota schools.

“I have loved every school I’ve ever been a part of,” Brooks said. “If I had it to do again, I would do it all over again the same way, just making a few adjustments now and then.”

Although he doesn’t have specific plans for his retirement, he hopes to have fun, play golf, go the beach and continue to be involved in education in some way.

“I’m going to just let it happen, enjoy life,” he said.

Maple Dale Assistant Principal Ann Marie Reinke will succeed Ron Books as principal of the school. Photo provided

Ann Marie Reinke, who is currently assistant principal of Maple Dale, will succeed Brooks as principal.

“I’m leaving this school to somebody who I know will do a wonderful job,” Brooks said.

Reinke began teaching third and fourth grade at Maple Dale in 1987, after graduating from Wilmington College, and has worked her entire education career in the district.

“Very rarely do you hear about an educator who gets to begin and end their career in same building,” Reinke said.

She later became assistant principal of Maple Dale, before taking a position as assistant director of academic affairs for the district. In 2015, she returned to Maple Dale as assistant principal as part of a succession plan to prepare for Brooks’ retirement.

“It feels like it’s come full circle for me,” Reinke said. “It’s something that is quite simply a dream come true.”

Growing up with a mother who was a teacher and a father who was a superintendent, Reinke said she’s always had a passion for learning and teaching.

“I love kids, and I love learning, and it’s just a great profession,” she said.

In addition to her experience in the district, her strength as an instructional leader and emphasis on putting students first made her the “perfect pick” to succeed Brooks, Forsthoefel said.

“She’s a great leader,” he said.

Although it’s a “difficult challenge” stepping into Brooks’ role, Reinke already is planning improvements. She expects to take advantage of the school’s new website to communicate with parents and the community members better and more consistently.

She also plans to encourage more student participation in morning announcements and student government and hopes to start a parent lecture series.

“I have nothing but the utmost faith that she will lead this school to new heights,” Brooks said.

Hackett, who has worked in education 43 years, started out at Nativity School in Pleasant Ridge. He then went on work for Milford Exempted Village Schools before coming to Sycamore in 1988.

E.H. Greene Intermediate Principal Phil Hackett is retiring June 29. Photo provided

He served as principal of Maple Dale until 1995, when he became principal of E.H. Greene Intermediate.
In the nearly 30 years he has worked in the district, his favorite things have been the personal connections he’s developed with students, families and staff members.

“I think I’ve tried to build a strong relationship with each member of my staff,” he said.

While Hackett is retiring from Sycamore, he expects to remain busy.

“I’m definitely not done working and contributing,” he said.

In addition to serving as principal at E.H. Greene, he is an adjunct faculty member in Xavier University’s middle childhood education department, where he expects to continue working.

He also plans to get his real estate license.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I thought now’s the time to do it,” he said.

When he’s not teaching or working in real estate, he wants to do more volunteer work with the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.

“I feel like I’m just transitioning to some new adventures,” he said.

District officials are still in the early stages of the search process for Hackett’s successor.

Forsthoefel said he hopes to have a candidate for school board members to approve in May.