One of my greatest life blessings was the opportunity to be a school administrator’s spouse. For the past 17 years, since marrying Larry Claypool, I had this supportive role in the educational world. Since my 66-year-old husband retired this past summer from Hardin-Houston Local School, I’ve reflected on some memories made during this journey.
It was in June 2002, when Larry and I wed, that he was the director of student services for Van Wert County, and I was working in public relations for Lima’s Apollo Career Center Adult Education. 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 Local School caused us to relocate to Continental. In that friendly village, we first learned about the acceptance of rural folks.
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 Local School 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 either, but I will miss the way his face lite up when he saw his students.
The last assignment Larry accepted was in 2011, when he signed on as the superintendent of Hardin-Houston Local School. We had prayed a lot about where we should go, realizing he would retire in less than a decade. Hardin-Houston was the perfect answer to our prayers. 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, Ohio.
There were more school banquets, plays, sporting events, 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 red and white graduation gowns, ceremonial music, and the rite of passage when a student proudly received their diploma. It has been such a privilege to have had 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. The couple lives in Troy, Ohio.