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O.J. Neighbours welcomes new principal

PRINCIPAL: O. J. Neighbours Principal Emily Tracy talks with kindergarten students during lunch on Wednesday.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

O.J. Neighbours Elementary School welcomed both students and its new principal to the building as the school year kicked off Wednesday morning.

Emily Tracy, whose appointment as principal was unanimously approved by the WCS board in June, is a lifelong Wabash County resident. She says she is glad to be back after commuting to three other schools from her previous experience.

“At every school district you’re at, you have a chance to make an impact on that community. It is a little bit more difficult to do that when you commute, so just being able to live here, have my home and make an impact on my home community is just absolutely amazing,” Tracy said. “That’s the ultimate goal. I’m a hometown girl, and my entire investment is in Wabash County.”

Tracy is a graduate of Southwood High School. After graduating, she went to Ball State University and obtained her degree in elementary education. Tracy began her career as an educator at Hamilton Southeastern Elementary, where she remained for seven years as a second and fourth grade teacher.

Tracy later became an assistant principal in Bremen Public Schools, and for the past four years worked as the principal at Park Elementary School in the Madison-Grant United School Corporation.

“I’ve tried for a long time to be a part of WCS, and I got very fortunate the opportunity opened up and I ran for it,” Tracy said.

For her first year, Tracy said she hopes to empower student leaders by setting leadership as the school’s theme for the year. The initial priority will include teaching students how to be happy and healthy, after which Tracy says leaders will naturally rise to leadership roles in the future.

Looking ahead, Tracy hopes to create a National Honor Society for fourth grade students at the school and to create opportunities for volunteer and service projects later this year.

Tracy’s 100-day plan includes seeking input from families and community members.

“I’ll be taking a look at all of that data, and then we work from there,” she said.