Covington BOE honors retiring staff

By Sam Wildow -

COVINGTON —The Covington Board of Education recognized four retiring staff members at their meeting Thursday evening.

Beginning with retiring principal Rick Fry, Board President Dean Pond said that Covington schools has “been very pleased” to have had Fry on staff.

Fry has 41 years of experience in education. His first nine years of teaching were in Sidney, and then he went to Southeastern Local Schools in Clark County as the K-8 principal.

“In 1990, he came to Piqua as an elementary school principal, serving as both Washington and High Street’s principal,” Superintendent Gene Gooding said. “His last six years have been at Covington Elementary, as he refers to it as the icing on the cake of his career.”

Fry graduated from Urbana University and received his master’s degree from the University of Dayton. He is a member of both the Covington and Piqua Optimist clubs. He also serves on the board of directors for the Piqua Public Library.

“Future plans include a fall cruise, working part-time for the Miami County ESC, and volunteering for hospice,” Gooding said about Fry.

“I’m so happy that my kids got to have you,” board member Alex Reck said to Fry.

Gooding then recognized Susie Hileman, who is retiring from her role as “Nurse Susie.”

“She’s made a tremendous impact on the lives of the kids in this building and many other places,” Gooding said. “I’ll never forget the first time I met her. I was just walking into the elementary building, and sure enough, she was in there working on my son.”

Gooding added that his son saw Hileman a couple more times that year, adding, “I think it was, more than anything, because he liked coming down and talking to you.”

Hileman has been a nurse for 38 years, including 16 years in public education. She was at Bradford for six years and Covington for 10 years.

“Imagine how many lives she’s affected,” Gooding said. “When you send your kid to school, the most important thing you think about is the safety of those kids, and I always feel very comfortable if there is an issue, there she is.”

Pond also thanked Hileman for her work at the school. Hileman then took a moment to say that she has enjoyed her time at Covington schools working with the kids, adding that “they’ve been worth it.”

“I’ve loved working here,” Hileman said. “I just wish it wasn’t ending so fast.”

Next, the board recognized retiring athletic secretary Brenda Shively.

Shively began her career as secretary to the superintendent at Bradford schools in 1974, and a few years later in 1981, she took on the position of assistant to the treasurer at Bradford. She worked in this position until accepting the position of treasurer’s assistant at Covington schools in 1998. After retirement from her full-time position in 2005, Shively accepted a part-time position as athletic secretary at Covington.

“It’s been great,” Shively said. “I feel like I’ve come full circle.”

Following Shively, the board honored Nadine Zimmer, who is retiring from her position as student services and EMIS coordinator at Covington schools.

“Nadine is retiring after 45 years in her career,” Gooding said. “Following the summer of 1998, Nadine began her 29-year career at Covington.”

Zimmer taught computer courses at Covington prior to becoming the district technology director. For the last three years, she has been the student services and EMIS coordinator.

“This is the unsung hero of our district. The person that made sure everything is correct so that we received the proper state funding,” Gooding said about Zimmer in her EMIS coordinator position, noting that she was like a compliance officer. “Without her, we just couldn’t have gotten by.”

Also during their meeting, the board approved hiring Jo Anna DeMotte as a Covington Junior High School/High School principal, effective Aug. 1. The board approved a two-year administrative contract with an annual salary of $89,000 for 225 days.

The board has approved an administrative assistant contract for DeMotte for the month of July at a per diem rate of $395.55 per day, not to exceed 20 days.

“We’re excited to have you,” Pond said.

DeMotte said that she was “excited for the opportunity.”

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336