Olentangy Valley News

Back after 12 years, McMurry ready to lead

Scioto Ridge's new principal plans to spend lots of time in classrooms after decade-plus at Big Walnut

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MELISSA DILLEY/THISWEEKNEWS
Peggy McMurry, who worked at Oak Creek Elementary School 12 years ago, will return to Olentangy this year as principal of Scioto Ridge Elementary School. MELISSA DILLEY/THISWEEKNEWS
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The leadership at Olentangy schools will change hands in five buildings at the start of the school year, but aside from one new principal, all are district veterans.

William Warfield has left Orange Middle School, where he was an English teacher, to serve as an assistant principal at Olentangy Liberty High School; and a former intervention specialist at Cheshire Elementary School, Ben Porter, is the new assistant principal of Olentangy Meadows Elementary School.

Porter will fill the spot of Jeremy Ross, who is the new principal at Wyandot Run Elementary School. Bridget Brock has been promoted to temporary principal at Tyler Run Elementary School.

Peggy McMurry, the new Scioto Ridge Elementary School principal, stands alone on the list of new principal hires who didn't work in the district last year. Instead, she was assistant principal at General Rosecrans Elementary School in the Big Walnut Local School District. She spent 12 years there following her one-year stint as the first assistant principal of Olentangy's Oak Creek Elementary School.

"I've realized over the summer that many things have stayed the same as far as excellence and some familiar faces, but many things have changed, especially when it comes to growth," McMurry said. "So it's not a complete foreign territory to me, but it's been enlightening to get reacquainted with the district."

McMurry, who is entering her 30th year as an educator and administrator, has spent the last few weeks getting to know her new staff by holding 30-minute meetings with each teacher. In the process, she said, she's learned a lot about her new school, which has helped her to build a plan to further improve the experience for students, teachers and parents.

Although McMurry wouldn't divulge exact plans for the school just yet, she said her meetings proved the staff is proud of Scioto Ridge just the way it is.

"I won't be making many changes the first few years because it's an exceptional school," she said. "I would only change something if it was going to make the school better overall, but right now, we have excellent programs in place."

McMurry said a few of the aspects she enjoys most about Scioto Ridge are the active PTO and its The Leader in Me student program, which teaches students to possess the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

While working in the Big Walnut School District last year, McMurry piloted a group of teachers who wrote student learning objectives for the first time. All Ohio teachers whose students aren't measured by state tests will be required to write student learning objectives each year, beginning this year.

McMurry said along with upgrading the building's technology, she'll work closely with Scioto Ridge teachers to ensure student learning objectives are completed properly.

But mainly, she'll be in the classroom -- and not just because the state demands she do so on a much more regular basis as part of the Ohio's new teacher evaluation system.

"I still look forward to the first day of school," said McMurry, who will wait outside for the buses to arrive Aug. 14. She said she plans to welcome students every day at the front doors.

"I need to be in the classroom every day," she added. "I need to see the kids and what they're doing and hear the excitement in their voices. It's what keeps me charged."

McMurry said the challenge of "putting the puzzle pieces together" among parents, teachers and students is another reason she's stayed in the business for three decades.

She'll meet with parents and students at upcoming back-to-school events throughout the next month.

On Aug. 11, kindergartners and their parents will gather at Murphy Park for orientation, and Aug. 12, the school will host its first open house from 4 to 6 p.m. At that time, students will meet their teachers and can head out to the playground for frozen treats with the principal.

A back-to-school bash is open to all Scioto Ridge students at their families. The PTO-sponsored event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Bogey Inn. One of the many raffle items up for grabs at the event will be dinner with the principal.

McMurry said her communication with parents will continue throughout the school year with weekly emails.

"Although I don't spend a whole lot of time in my office, because I'm walking around, talking with kids and the staff, I'll continue to have an open-door policy for anyone who ever wants to meet with me," McMurry said.

"I'm thrilled to be back in Olentangy and I want to continue to foster that family feel that Scioto Ridge has."

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