The Herald Bulletin

May 1, 2013

Fields: Decision to retire hard, but 'it’s time'

By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin

LAPEL, Ind. — Next year, Lapel Elementary Principal Woody Fields won’t have kids offering him hugs when they get off the bus.

He won’t see any smiling faces while walking the halls of the school.

He won’t because he’s retiring.

Fields has been an educator for 43 years and principal of Lapel Elementary for nine. He’s also been a sixth grade teacher, Frankton-Lapel’s athletic director and a coach in four varsity sports: girls softball and basketball, and boys wrestling and football -- both boys programs he helped start.

He had chances to head elsewhere when he was younger, but said he was happy right where he was in Lapel.

“I just enjoy being here and the people,” he said. “I guess that’s the reason.”

Fields loves the students and is proud to have worked with a good team of teachers and administrators.

And it’s not just the teachers and staff who want the kids to do well, he added. Many of the parents have been actively involved.

“Everybody is working for the same things,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot with everybody willing to be a team.”

Former principal Genny Zetterberg, who currently serves as the corporation’s director of reading, Title I, highability and English as a Second Language, said it’s been fun to watch Fields transition from teacher to principal.

“The kids think he’s wonderful. He’s very personable,” she said. “He loves the kids and they love him.”

She looks forward to "being back with the kids every day,” though.

One of Fields’ greatest challenges has been keeping the school moving in the right direction. It’s something, though, he said he feels has been accomplished with the help of teachers and staff.

Last year, Lapel Elementary received an ‘A’ grade from the Indiana Department of Education and saw the highest percentage of students passing both the math and English/language arts sections of the ISTEP test in the county.

“One of the most rewarding is seeing the kids become adults, leaders in the community, and teaching their children,” Fields said.

Superintendent Bobby Fields was one of his students and assistant coaches. He also coached Assistant Superintendent Sterling Boles.

Fields said watching students like them become successful is one rewarding aspect of being an educator that many outside of the education world don’t think about.

Once he’s finished and his wife, Joanne, retires just months later, Fields said, they plan to travel and spend more time with their grandchildren.

He’s a history buff so an unhurried trip to Washington, D.C. is first on the list.

While Fields said it’s time to leave, it’s not going to be easy to stay away.

“Everything that’s happened to me happened while I was in this building,” he said.

He was a student, met his wife at and student taught at Lapel before getting a full time job there.

“It kind of grows on you.”

Find Dani Palmer on Facebook and @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.