Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Assistant Yearbook Editor Found in Florida

Ronna Paris has been a regular on the list of missing classmates, but she was never really lost. After she graduated from the UW in 1972, she decided to move to a place where she could "stay outside all year." She's been living in Florida for 33 years. After beginning a career in teaching, she earned a master's degree and went into educational administration. She's currently the principal of Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School in Bradenton.

It took me a quite a while to locate her because her last name is now Moore. But when I telephoned her, the voice, the enthusiam, and self-confidence were just as I remembered. We chatted for quite a long time and exchanged email addresses. This past weekend, I sent her an email requesting some information.

Here's an excerpt from my email:

I'm in the process of writing up a short piece about what you've been up to all these years and wanted to check on one thing I didn't have in my notes (I almosts always take notes when I'm on the phone -- habit I guess). Anyway, "same county for 33 years" -- does that mean you drove to Florida right after you graduated from the UW? I want the chronology to be accurate.
Rather than try to paraphrase Ronna's reply, I'm going to reprint her reply here almost verbatim (just a couple of tweaks such as adding a link):

Yes, that's exactly what I did! I knew I had an entire world to choose from to build a future and Florida looked really good to me, so I did what I needed to do, secured a job in the area I wanted to be (the gorgeous S.W. coast, aptly named the suncoast), packed my stationwagon and off I went.

I've never regretted that decision. I think I've been really blessed with a career I love, two great kids who turned out to be independent, intelligent, successful, caring adults, and a life I wouldn't trade with anyone, for anything.

One part of my life I'm most proud of is what I've been able to do for public education in Manatee County with my awesome staff. Most of them started with me at Braden River Elem and then transferred with me to build and open McNeal three years ago. We are the first public elementary school in Florida to be an Attuned School; this is part of the Schools Attuned program from Mel Levine in Chapel Hill, NC. Our entire program is based on teaching specifically to the neurodevelopmental learning profile of each student. We were determined to be one of the top 100 highest achieving schools in the state based on last year's achievement testing.

I trained with my staff, so I am a certified SA specialist, and I'm also a facilitator/trainer now. This may be something I do on a part time basis after I retire.

RETIRE???!!!! aarrgghhh....I'm not one bit ready to retire! There are so many things I still want to do! Since I've spent my entire professional life in public education, I can't imagine living a day without the hugs and smiles of my little ones every day. I've decided the book I'll write when I retire will be, I Did It For the Cupcakes; A Study of Contemporary School Leadership. :-)


Anonymous said...


It is good to hear another Madison "southsider" is doing well. The world needs more good teachers and administrators. Best wishes and continued success to you and your staff.

Bob T.

D Strand said...

I assume Bob T. is Bob Tiedeman. Long time no see. What are you up to? Are you still living in Madison? The Yearbook says Football 10-11 for you. Why isn't there a 12 there, too? The Tigers could have used you on that team!!