Spirit Week has been bittersweet for South Stokes High School Principal Rich Pekar, who announced to his students on Tuesday that he was resigning from his position to move back to Pennsylvania with his family.
Pekar, Stokes County’s current Principal of the Year, called an assembly before the start of classes on Tuesday to make the official announcement.
“I wanted to be the one to tell them,” said Pekar. “I didn’t know even how to say it to them.”
Students have reached out to him in a positive way. The well-respected principal said Tuesday afternoon that he had already begun receiving letters from students and had been asked to pose for many photos. During Spirit Week, there has been a lot of energy around campus as students dress up for different themes each day and prepare for homecoming on Friday night.
The Stokes County Board of Education accepted Pekar’s resignation at a board work session on Tuesday morning. Rick Menear, current assistant principal at South, has been tapped to fill the principal position when Pekar leaves.
Pekar’s final day at South had not been determined yet as of Tuesday morning. He expected to remain at the school for a couple more weeks.
The decision was a tough one, said Pekar. He wanted students to know that he was not leaving them for a better job, but that his family felt led to move to Pennsylvania, where he grew up. A few doors opened for the family, and they made the decision to move.
Pekar will be returning to the same school district where he was educated as a child and has accepted an administrative position with a school there. According to a press release from Stokes County Schools, Pekar will be an assistant principal at an elementary school.
No matter where he goes, Pekar said he will always carry with him that there is only one place you can be a Saura, and that is South Stokes.
“I’ll always believe in maroon and gold,” said Pekar.
Though Pekar will be returning to his roots with the move, he said, “I’m torn. I’m from up there, but this has been home to me for 13 years … I love Stokes County and it will always be a home for me, too.”
Pekar said he believes Stokes County Schools is one of the best school districts in the state. “One thing I like about it is that I could’ve worked in any school in the county and still loved my job.”
But for the last few years, Pekar has been a Saura. He began his teaching career at Sandy Ridge Elementary School in 2000, eventually moving to Chestnut Grove Middle School then serving as assistant principal at North Stokes from 2004-2006, principal at Sandy Ridge Elementary from 2006-2010 and as South Stokes principal since 2010.
Superintendent Ronnie Mendenhall said Pekar will be sorely missed by the district and that he only has good things to say about Pekar and his leadership. Mendenhall went on to say that he feels confident in Menear assuming the principal position based on how closely Menear and Pekar have worked as a team at South Stokes.
Menear said, “I was honored and I guess humbled at the same time … I readily accepted it.”
He expressed appreciation for what he has learned while working with Pekar. Menear said, “I feel that Rich was a great leader.”
Though he said no one can fill Rich’s shoes, Menear pledged, “I’m going to do the best I can to continue the success.”
Mendenhall said he believes Menear has the experience and skill-set necessary to carry out a winning school year at South Stokes.
Menear has been assistant principal under Pekar’s leadership since 2010 and is in his third year in administration at South Stokes High School. He has been an educator with Stokes County Schools since 1998. Menear has been a high school teacher at North Stokes and also taught at Piney Grove and Chestnut Grove middle schools. He was also a coach at those schools.
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.
Jimmy Boyles, a retired principal, will serve as interim assistant principal at South for the remainder of the school year. Mendenhall said Boyles will be a great addition to the South Stokes team to ensure a smooth transition.
Boyles served as an assistant principal at South Stokes from 1990-1993. He also served as assistant principal at North Stokes from 1993-1995 and was principal at Pine Hall Elementary from 1995-1997 and Francisco Elementary from 1997-2006. He taught science and physical education and coached at Chestnut Grove for 14 years from 1976-1990. Most recently, he served as interim principal at Sandy Ridge Elementary School during the final quarter of last school year. Boyles earned his bachelor’s degree from High Point University and his master’s degree from N.C. A&T State University.