A few weeks ago, O’Fallon Patch sat down with Dr. Sandy Baner to talk about his retirement at Mount Hope Elementary School, where he has served as principal for 26 years.
“I can honestly say, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said, sitting behind his desk, wearing a bright yellow tie he received from a Mount Hope student.
The principal, who is well known among the students for his collection of cartoon ties, received the gift from first grader named Nolan after announcing his retirement. It has a picture of Nolan and reads: “Dr. Baner I’ve only been here a year and I’ve worn you out already?”
“The kids love my ties, I think I have all cartoons represented,” Baner said with a smile.
The principal said he is looking forward to retirement and spending time with family, but he will miss the students at Mount Hope Elementary.
Superintendant Bernard DuBray said the district will also miss Baner’s presence and dedication.
“Sandy Baner has brought stability and the love of the outdoors to Mount Hope Elementary. He has been dedicated to the Outdoor Education program of the district and shared his enthusiasm with his students for all these years,” DuBray said.
Baner received his teaching degree at South East Missouri State and a Master’s Degree at North East (now Truman University), before receiving his principal certification at University of Missouri-St. Louis and a Doctorate Degree in School Administration at St. Louis University.
He student taught in the Mehlvhille School District and worked there for half a year before coming to Fort Zumwalt, where he taught sixth grade, second grade and served as the district’s first computer coordinator before becoming Mount Hope’s principal 26-years-ago.
This beloved elementary school principal wasn’t always sure he’d go into education, but now as his career draws to an end, he said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to go into teaching. I actually hate to admit this, but a lot of people thought I’d be great at teaching, and I actually told someone while in college, I’d drop out of school before I’d go into teaching,” he said. “If I had to do it all over again, I couldn’t have made a better choice. “
Patch: What’s been the most rewarding moment of your career as principal?
Baner: Watching the development of these kids. Year after year, I’ve been here long enough and worked with so many children, that’s what keeps you going. Watching them grow physically and educationally and being there for them.
Patch: Can you share a funny story from the job?
Baner: These kids make you laugh everyday, even the little ones that get in trouble. There’s been times they come in and I’ve had to walk out because I didn’t want to laugh in front of them. Their stories are cute. Even if their in trouble, it’s fun to listen to their perspective. There are so many stories. I’d give you one and tomorrow regret not giving you another one. The kids give you a reason to smile everyday.
Patch: What will you miss most?
Baner: The obvious would be the interaction with the kids.
Patch: Any big plans for your retirement days?
Baner: No. I am looking into some possibilities to continue working. I’m considering a few things right now, but also to have a little extra time to do things I enjoy. I have twin girls going into high school and I told them all along I’m retiring in time for them to be freshman in high school so I can be there all the time with them. I’m pretty sure they know I’m kidding.
I also have a son, who is a junior in high school and one graduating from college. I plan on spending more time with them.
Next school year, Tania Farran, currently the assistant principal at Progress South Elementary, will take over as Principal of Mount Hope
“I’m very proud of the staff and since I’ve been here 26 years, theres’ only one here I didn’t personally hire, so I feel good about the teachers and support staff that I’m leaving behind to work with these kids,” Baner said.
If you know Dr. Baner, wish him farewell and happy retirement or share one of your favorite memories in the comments section!