Stratton to retire as Chester elementary principal
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Chester will be looking for a new Elementary Principal. Faith Stratton announced her retirement in January. Her position was officially posted this week.|
Stratton has spent her entire teaching career with the Chester Area School District, starting as a physical education teacher at the Franklin school working two hours a day in 1973.
Her second year she taught physical education, Title reading and math and continued with that schedule for 16 years before she started teaching fifth grade, which she did for the next nine years. As a fifth-grade teacher, Stratton also moved her class from Franklin to Chester when the district closed the Franklin school. That move took place over the 1989-90 winter break.
Upon her retirement, Stratton will have spent 15 years as principal, and although she's excited about retiring and being able to move closer to her grandchildren in Ankeny, Iowa, she will miss Chester.
"I couldn't ask for a better community to be a part of," she said. "I will miss this place."
As principal Stratton was instrumental in starting the preschool program, which now draws students from Dell Rapids, Tri Valley, Colton and Madison.
"Thankfully Mark (Greguson) has been willing to go along with the things we need," she said. "And the school board has too."
Stratton was South Dakota's nominee for National Distinguished Principal in 2011. At that time, she said aspiring to be an administrator wasn't something she thought about until a couple of friends decided to pursue their master's degrees in the early 1990s and she was asked if she wanted to do the same. When she finished her degree, the elementary principal's job was open and she applied and got the job.
As principal, Stratton has been responsible for more than $2 million in grant funds that have been put toward several programs, including modernization efforts, establishment of an after-school program, making middle grades work, making high schools work, and the laptop initiative.
Although some of the programs aren't specifically geared toward elementary students, Stratton said that her focus is the entire school and making things better for everyone.
The all-day, every day kindergarten program was nonexistent when she started as principal, but she was able to get it started soon after she started as an administrator. Early childhood opportunities expanded again in 2009 with preschool and begindergarten programs. The preschool program is for students ages 3-4. Begindergarten is for students who are 5 years old but not quite ready for kindergarten.