When school starts again in August, there will be one person missing. Forest Park Elementary Principal Connie Cook will not be there.
After 34 years, of work in the education field, Cook decided to retire.
"It's time," she said. "It's been a great place to work and play."
After graduation from college, Cook spent two years in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband teaching.
Then in 1978, she came home and taught for 13 years at Staunton Elementary and Forest Park Elementary. In 1991, she became the principal of Forest Park Elementary where she spent 19 years there.
"I'm going to miss the students the most," she said. "It has always been about the kids, and it will always be about the kids."
Some of her favorite memories were watching the students accomplish their reading goals.
"I've been in a dunking booth, kissed a llama and rode a greased pig," she said about encouraging students to read.
During the last few days of school, students made cards for Cook and she received phone calls from parents of her students.
"The students remember the field days, family fun nights and snow cones," she said. "I've received lots of phone calls from parents. It's nice to know I'm going to be missed."
Throughout her years in education, Cook has worked with many people and she still lives by the words of a former principal.
"I have been very fortunate to work for some good leaders," she said. "Darrel Craig was principal at Staunton Elementary, and he said to always make your decisions on what's best for the kids."
Cook took those words to heart and continued to not only encourage the students, but the teachers as well.
"I have had a great teaching staff," she said. "The success of ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-Plus) has been great. The teachers have worked hard the last two years."
In her retirement, Cook plans to spend time gardening and traveling with her husband as well as time with family.
"I'm going to spend some more time with my nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews," she said.
There were times where her job was not the easiest, but everyday she reminded herself that it was for the children.
"Don't forget that every single student is someone's son, daughter or grandchild," she said. "Treat them like they are your own."
In the above article, which appeared in the June 5 edition of The Brazil Times, students not did create the poem featured in the picture. It was presented to retiring Forest Park Principal Connie Cook at an awards program in front of students by recently retired teacher Bev Howald.