Hundreds of well-wishers lined the road to the new middle and high school campus last Thursday to pay tribute to outgoing Seaside School District Superintendent Sheila Roley.
Roley will retire June 30 after three decades with the district as teacher, principal and superintendent.
Roley and assistant superintendent Susan Penrod, along with other administrators, attended a leadership meeting at Broadway Middle School when Penrod suggested they take a drive to the new campus.
“She didn’t really know until we drove right up before here and saw the police escorts pull up,” Penrod said.
Police were joined by the Seaside Fire Department, including the 100-foot tractor-drawn aerial quint.
“I had no clue,” Roley said as she stepped from the yellow Jeep to a crowd of well-wishers and supporters. “One-hundred percent. I am grateful beyond words to have had the opportunity to have had this team, do this work, to be in this community, for the untold blessings of being able to serve the families and the kids and the staff and the community members in Seaside and our larger Seaside community. No one could have it better.”
Many at the event had taken classes with Roley. Two of them are now on the school board.
“Sheila was my eight-grade science teacher,” Brian Taylor said. “She was a good teacher, always helpful. She always pushed kids for excellence, just like she did her staff.”
Board member Michelle Wunderlich called Roley “inspirational. She’s a strong, gracious leader, but she’s not afraid to stand up to people when she’s needed to. I had her as an eighth-grade coach, and she was also my volleyball coach and taught me how to roll.”
“She took care of kids,” school board president Mark Truax said. “Everything she’s ever done or advocated has been for the students. She’s been a huge asset since the moment she got here.”
Senior bus driver Blake Osburn spoke of Roley’s affinity with students. “The kids love her,” Osburn said. “She’d get on the bus and she’d make the bus drivers feel special. She’d say, ‘Hey you guys, you’ve got Blake today. You’re very lucky.’ She’s a very encouraging person.”
Roley received superlatives from school board member Dr. Hugh Stelson for her leadership, especially with the ongoing campus construction project.
“I think her biggest accomplishment is this building and the fact that she could ride herd on it, it’s a terrible thing to do and still be superintendent at the same time,” Stelson said.
Construction project manager Jim Henry praised Roley’s “big vision and aspiration for the school and education. That’s served the school and the community well. There’s been times when you get into the weeds and the details, but she’s kept us in the right framework when there are challenging discussions.”
High school principal Jeff Roberts joined the school district in 2011 as assistant principal, working alongside Roley for almost 10 years. “I hope to be as much as a leader in this district as she has in this district,” he said. “Her care and commitment and compassion for this community are second to none.”
Heights/Pacific Ridge Elementary School Principal Juliann Wozniak was one of many to call Roley “inspirational,” pointing out that Roley was the first female principal at the high school and the district’s first female superintendent. “She’s a great people person and I’ve been grateful to be under her guidance for the last six years,” Wozniak said.
The words of former superintendent Doug Dougherty resonated as the celebration came to a close and construction crews moved back into place.
“Every job she has been the type of person who makes it her own, and we’re all the better for it,” Dougherty said. “She’s a superstar.”