After 35 years with Stokes County Schools, Principal Roger Tucker is retiring from Piney Grove Middle School — a school he helped open 14 years ago.
Tucker will retire at the end of June. The school district announced this week that Rick Menear will take over as the new principal of Piney Grove, effective July 1. Menear is currently the principal at South Stokes High School. A search will begin to find a new principal for South Stokes.
Of the decision to retire, Tucker said, “It’s just time.”
A graduate of North Stokes, Tucker began his education career at the central office in the Community Schools program in 1978. He went on to teach business math at North Stokes and serve as assistant principal. In 1989 he became principal of Pine Hall Elementary, and in 1993 he transferred to Sandy Ridge Elementary School.
But for the past 14 years, he has served as principal of Piney Grove Middle School. Tucker got to open up the school, working with builders and staff the last six months of construction to help get things up and running. He worked with students to select the mascot and school colors, saw the formation of the PTO group, and remembers when some athletic teams had to play at North Stokes for a few years while facilities were completed.
“The start up was very busy, but exciting,” said Tucker. “It’s something that I’ll cherish.”
Not many principals get the opportunity to open schools. Tucker remarked, “I feel privileged to have been able to do that. I’ve enjoyed it.”
Over Tucker’s time at Piney Grove, the school has been designated by the state as an Honor School of Excellence (2004-05), School of Distinction with High Growth (2002-03, 06-07, 10-11), School of Distinction with Expected Growth (2008-09, 11-12) and a School of Progress with Expected Growth (2005-06, 07-08, 09-10).
“We have a very resourceful school,” said Tucker, noting the strong technology integration.
One of his goals at Piney Grove has been for the school to be a viable step between elementary school and high school. In middle school students learn how to handle decisions, get along with different students, make it through their adolescent years, and develop coping skills, he said.
He said, “You’ve got to love young people to be in education. You’ve got to love the total child.” He noted that students would have their good and bad days, but mostly they were good.
“I’ve always enjoyed being around education … You get to see students advance, grow and mature educationally, intellectually, emotionally,” said Tucker.
With his career at Piney Grove soon coming to an end, Tucker said he would like to thank the faculty, students and community for their support.
“I hope we have done a good job in getting the school started out and on its way to success,” he said.
In retirement, Tucker hopes to spend more time at his home near Lawsonville working on the “many projects that will be waiting.” He will continue to be involved in the community and schools. He hopes to spend more time with family, including his wife, Gayle; three sons, Daniel, Brandon and Ryan; and two grandchildren.
Tucker said, “I’m looking forward to it.”
Rick Menear took over as principal of South Stokes High School in the fall after former principal Rich Pekar moved to Pennsylvania. He had been an assistant principal under Pekar’s leadership since 2010. Now Menear will finish out the school year at South before taking the helm at Piney Grove.
“It’s been a great three years at South Stokes, and I’m going to miss all these people,” said Menear.
Leaving was a tough decision, but Menear said he is “excited about going to Piney Grove.” In a way, he is going back to his education roots.
Menear began teaching for Stokes County Schools in 1998, and he moved to Piney Grove Middle School his second year of teaching. It was the year the school opened. There he taught math and science under Tucker’s leadership for several years.
Menear said, “I think it’s an honor that I got to work for Roger and I get to go in and take over the helm.”
Menear said he will use Tucker as a resource.
The move to Piney Grove will bring Menear closer to his home and will allow him a little more time with his family.
“I’m excited to get back to where I started,” said Menear.
Menear earned his bachelor’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania in elementary education and is also certified in middle grades mathematics. He earned his master’s in school administration from Radford University. In addition to Piney Grove, he has also taught at North Stokes High School and Chestnut Grove Middle School.