When I was a teacher, I had the good fortune to work for an excellent principal, Mrs. Debra Ormsby. She was energetic, bright, and dedicated to our district and its students. She was also demanding, with high expectations. I did NOT want to let her down, ever. Deb was a teacher in the district and then an assistant principal and quickly, the HS principal. She spent her entire career in public education dedicated to Pine Valley Central School District in South Dayton, NY. She was well respected in the field and could have gone anywhere she wanted but she stayed.
I loved working at Pine Valley for Deb Ormsby. She taught me the right combination of grit and compassion. Boy, she’d get ticked off if someone let her down! I remember we had a student who exited a BOCES bus and urinated on the side of the road. I think Deb would have decked the kid if she could have. She had so much pride in the district that his behavior definitely did NOT meet her expectations. She reacted with just as much passion to help a student in need.
As teachers, she supported us. If we wanted to try something new in a lesson, we knew she’d be happy to hear we went an extra mile to engage the students in learning. We knew she had our backs if we tried a lesson that didn’t quite work out too. At the same time, she expected 100% passing on my Regents exams and if anyone failed, I needed to know why and have a plan for what would come next.
The thing Deb talked about that I’ve never forgotten was what she called the “IT” factor. She said that sometimes you saw a teacher teach and you just knew that’s exactly what that person was meant to do, from the relationships with the students to the lesson development to the content mastery. I saw that “IT” factor in classrooms I visited over the past week. Incredible teachers who have that “IT” factor and are therefore making a real difference for students. It looks easy when you see someone like this teaching and children thrive in the classroom.
I think Deb Ormsby would have loved working here, with this administrative team and the teachers we have at SGI. I think she would have made us all try just a little harder every day than we did yesterday. I’m grateful for those ten years teaching in Pine Valley and for everything that I learned from Deb, our superintendent Cindy Miner, and all of my colleagues. I still feel a sense of responsibility to be better and to make her proud, 19 years after leaving. That’s a leader!