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Longtime educator at St. Mary's Episcopal School in Edmond is set to retire

Nancy Hetherington has been head of St. Mary's Episcopal School in Edmond since 1990 and said the time is right for new leadership.
BY PETER WRIGHT Modified: November 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm •  Published: November 24, 2012
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Over time, the school has gained the little traditions that add life to learning. Some of the younger students recently wore construction-paper hats and gave a quick rendition of the Puritans' Thanksgiving. It's a common tradition in many schools, but Hetherington remembers when this one started.

“I started that,” she said. “I don't know when or why. Of course, the music teacher took it and made it so much better. It's just kind of survived, and the children love it.”

Hetherington didn't want to make a decision about retiring until it seemed right for her and for the school.

“I didn't want it to be situational,” she said. “I wanted it to be just because it's time and it's the right thing to do.”

A job where she claims 75 percent of each day's work is a surprise can't go on indefinitely.

“You know, I joke and say I'm ready to not learn a lesson every day,” she said.

Working as a team

Gayle Jones, director of development and marketing, met Hetherington in 1986. The parents' organization that year donated a bronze plaque of a butterfly with a cross over it to the school, fusing two symbols that she thinks sum up its mission. It is displayed on an outside wall of the new building.

That mission, of academic, spiritual and social growth, is why Jones signed on as an employee.

“(Change) is always needed in an organization to have creative minds and new techniques, but what I don't see changing is the mission of the school,” Jones said.

Billye Palmer has been teaching kindergarten at St. Mary's for 23 years. She said Hetherington's leadership, combined with a community of parents, students, teachers and supporters, has made the school what it is.

“I feel like she has set such a firm foundation that we will go on and excel in education,” Palmer said.

Applications invited

Applications are being accepted for a new head of school at St. Mary's Episcopal School. The deadline to apply is Dec. 15. Applications should be mailed to 505 E Covell Road, Edmond, OK 73034. For more information, go to www.smesedmond.org.