Pat Farrenkopf was in her office at Britton Elementary School, wrapping up loose ends on June 19.

Pat Farrenkopf was in her office at Britton Elementary School, wrapping up loose ends on June 19.

She still had some boxes left to haul out as she leaves the Hilliard City School District after seven years.

"Britton is a special place," she said, taking one last look at the garden she saw take shape about four years ago.

Not only is the school losing its principal as she retires, to assume a job as director of Gifted Services for the Olentangy Local School District, but she is taking her husband Jim with her.

"He has served as the photographer for every event," she said, "the musicals, art shows, everything. We always get doubles, because we give a copy to the parents and use the other one for our scrapbook."

A retirement party was held for Farrenkopf by the staff on June 20, but, she said, it is not uncommon for retirees to assume another job upon their departure.

"When I was first talking about retirement I said 'I will be doing something, but I don't know what,'" she recalled. "I do now."

Farrenkopf said she is always open to new opportunities and when a person in the Gifted program contacted to let her know the position as director was opening, she seized it.

"I will be returning to a job I have done most of my career," said Farrenkopf. "Now they have new legislation that looks interesting, and I know some of the teachers in Olentangy."

While she will be based out of the Central Office, Farrenkopf said, part of her duties call for her to be out in the buildings.

"I'm looking forward to that very much," she said.

At the same time, she has no intention of walking away from Britton without looking back.

"I will stay in touch with the people," she said. "I am still in touch with people in Westerville and I left there to come here. You just add to your base, it is wonderful."

Farrenkopf said she and her husband were told they would be more than welcome to return next winter and participate in the annual Pinewood Derby held by Cub Scout Pack 481 which is charted and operates out of Britton.

"We probably will," she said.

She and her husband have been involved in derby events for the past five years.

This past year, the Farrenkopfs fined tuned their racing efforts with cars shaped like musical instruments.

Her car was designed like a violin, while her husband's car was an electric guitar.

The cars were based on her experiences at the school this past year.

"I always wanted to take violin lessons," said Farrenkopf. "So I learned violin with the fifth-graders. It was hard. I knew how to play the piano and clarinet, but violin is different. It was a challenge for me, too."

Seeing how hard their principal worked made a difference for some of the students.

As she and her husband shaped out their cars, Farrenkopf said hers looked exactly like a violin.

"He doesn't play," she said of the electric guitar, "but he loves music. This year, I beat him down the track. I said 'Did you do something to your car?'"

It was a fitting way for Farrenkopf to depart, learning to play the violin and winning at the derby.

Rob Spicer, who has been the principal at Scioto Darby Elementary School for the past decade and with the district for 27 years, will take on the role at Britton.

"I have met with Rob Spicer and we had some good conversations," said Farrenkopf.

If she could share words of wisdom based on experience, she said, she would tell Spicer to trust his new staff.

"It is always important to empower people who you are responsible for supervising," she said. "No one individual could do this alone, besides it would be a waste of the talent here. You need to identify the need and the talent here and match that up."

She hopes to take those skills on with her to Olentangy.

"I think I can do it again in a new location," she said. "That is the benefit, to take that with you as you go from one district to the next."

Great ideas, Farrenkopf said, work in another location, as well.