Reardon retiring after 30 years in public education

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Hannah Cole Principal Leslie Reardon is retiring at the end of the current school year after serving 30 years in public education. Reardon has been the principal at Hannah Cole for the past 13 years.

After 30 years of education in the classroom as a teacher, elementary guidance counselor and elementary principal, Leslie Reardon felt there was no time like the present to retire.

Of course Reardon wasn’t just gifted to work with kids of all ages, she also used her talents as a standout at Salisbury High School to coach not only girls freshmen basketball for two years but also assist in softball for as many years. In addition, Reardon was also a love and logic facilitator for five years, mentor administrator for four years and adjunct professor at CMU for Masters in Education for three years.

Those are just a few of Reardon’s accomplishments in her 30 year tenure.

Boonville R-I Superintendent Sarah Marriott said anytime staff members retire from the Boonville School District, it brings about a range of emotions.  

“We are saddened by the loss to our district and for future students who will not experience daily interactions with these great educational leaders,” Marriott said. “However, we are excited for Mrs. Leslie Reardon and the opportunity to enjoy this much-deserved life moment.  We also know in the future despite the lack of her daily presence in our school, our school district, buildings, staff, students, and community are much better because of Mrs. Reardon.  She has dedicated many years to improving educational opportunities for all students.  Her work is visible in the staff and students at Hannah Cole. We will miss Leslie tremendously but wish her only the best in retirement.”

Reardon’s list of accomplishments are also too numerous to mention, but one she would be proud to mention is the partnership with community agencies to raise over $50,000 for Hannah Cole Primary the past 4 years. Another well known accomplishment for Reardon is initiating and participating in the HomeWorks program, where staff visit families in their home. Last but not least, Reardon was selected as the Kansas City Chief’s Educator of the Year- 2014.

Reardon has also been heavily involved in the community while serving on the Harvest House Board and YMCA Board for three years each.

The following is an interview with Reardon on her 30 years in education:

Q: First of all, why did you want to become a principal?

A: I loved the staff and students at Central and wanted to continue the positive climate and excellent education already in place.  

Q: What was the hardest part of being a principal? 

A: Not being able to fix problems- whether it is student centered or adult centered.  I’m a fixer, helper and sometimes tough decisions had to be made that upset people and I don’t like for people to be upset with me.  

Q: Without being too personal, why did you decide to retire? 

A: This is year 30 and I am extremely grateful I was able to serve 30 years in Public Education.  This is both a challenging and rewarding career.  I am thankful for this chapter of my life and look forward to the next chapter.  

Q: You were a counselor for several years before becoming a principal, what did you like the most about being a counselor and what did you like about being a principal?  

A: I loved the relationships with students, teaching classes and making connections with families and the community.  As a principal, many of those continued.  I think I liked my focus always being on kids and doing out of the box thinking that pushed past a traditional sense of what would make Hannah Cole a great place for kids.  

Q: What are your plans after retirement?  

A: Traveling, Golden Retriever Puppies, Finishing my children’s book set, being outdoors, cheering on the CMU Eagle Softball team and Serving my community.  

Q: What are you going to miss the most about being principal at Hannah Cole? 

A: I will miss many things- the student, family and staff relationships.  

Q: How many years were you a counselor and how many years as a principal? 

A: Two years teaching kindergarten, 15 years as an elementary counselor, & 13 years as a principal

Q: How do you feel the education system has changed since when you started as a teacher?  

A: The needs of students and families have risen dramatically.  The amount of accountability and responsibility put on educators has as well.  It is a career you have to be passionate about because the workload is never ending- but the salary and respect don’t always equal the amount

of time, love and dedication that goes into being an educator.  

Q: What are you going to miss the most with interacting with the students and teachers at Hannah Cole?

A: Making a difference, being a positive influence or helping someone through a tough time.  

Q: What was the learning curve for you personally on being a principal at Hannah Cole?  

A: The amount of time I spent to try to keep everything running smoothly and taking care of things the best I could.  When I began I did not have an assistant, we did not have a curriculum coordinator or behavior specialist so I was in charge of EVERY aspect of the building.  I am not one to do things half way so I spent hours after school and on the weekends to make sure everything was done.  

Q: Kids today are so resilient. How have the kids today coped with virtual learning versus in-school learning?

A: Kids are resilient. They adapt better to technology than most adults. However, we need to get our kids outside and more active. The lack of physical activity, personal connections and social interactions and focus on education is frightening. 

Q: As a principal in 2020-21, how different was it for you personally and how did you address the challenges day to day? 

A: The students were easy.  Supporting staff with all the responsibilities on their plate was the biggest challenge.  We planned fun events for our staff, increased communication with staff and families and also found ways to continue teaching even with the challenges.  I imagine my stress this year was a bit different too knowing that this was my last year.