School is much quieter today, the first day of summer break in Royal Oak, but Marcie Dryden still has plenty to do.
Dryden, the physical education teacher at and elementary schools, is packing up her office and putting away her sweats as she anticipates her change in career path. She isn’t quitting the world of education; instead she has been promoted to principal at Keller Elementary.
“When I found out I was approved as the principal at the (April 14) school board meeting I could hardly contain the excitement,” Dryden said. “I was jumping out of my skin.”
The idea of becoming a principal hadn’t occurred to Dryden until three years ago when she filled in for Sharon Ivascu at Upton for six weeks while she was on medical leave. Dryden enjoyed that experience so much she decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in school administration at Oakland University.
“When I filled in the first time, I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do,” the Ferndale resident said. “Having the opportunity really helped guide me in that direction because I loved it, every second of it.”
Dryden got her second taste of being a principal, when she served in place as principal at for the first few months of the school year, which really solidified Dryden’s desire to be a principal.
Oak Ridge Secretary Sue Kaczkowski said that the staff loved working with Dryden, that she empowers her staff and she was constantly interacting with the kids. “You just don’t find that in an interim principal,” Kaczkowski said. “I’ve been around for a really long time and I’ve worked for 10 different principals and Marcie Dryden was absolutely at the top of her game.”
This fact was not lost on the administration when it was time to fill the principal position at Keller, the Royal Oak Neighborhood School District’s official International Baccalaureate World School, offering the Primary Years Programme.
“She’s been providing service in a variety of ways other than being a fantastic teacher,” said Cheryl Goodgine, executive director of Administrative Services & Technology for the district. “She’s represented the district on committees and in different capacities; the kids, parents and teachers love her. Marcie’s a great pick.”
Keller principal John Houghton retires
Dryden replaces John Houghton, who is retiring. Houghton is confident Dryden is a great choice for the job. “I’m really pleased that Marcie will be taking over,” Houghton said. “She’s familiar with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme and furthermore she knows all of the kids here at this school and already has built great relationships with them and the parents.”
As for Houghton’s retirement, he noted he was glad, yet sad at the same time. He has been in the Royal Oak school district for 13 years, the last four at Keller. Houghton said he's pleased to look back at the career he had at Royal Oak and proud he can leave Keller in such good shape. “I really had a great career here in Royal Oak,” Houghton said. “I know what made it good was all the people and kids in the school district.”
Dryden began career in Royal Oak
Dryden did her student teaching in Royal Oak, then went on to teach physical education in the district for 15 years. She spent six years at the former Kimball High School, where she coached basketball, volleyball and served as the varsity softball coach. Dryden graduated from Eastern Michigan University where she received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health and a master’s degree in physical education. She received an education specialist degree in school administration K-12 from Oakland University. She also represented Royal Oak at the Oakland Schools Aspiring Principals Academy.
Keller PTA President Jami Savino said she was happy Houghton was able to go out on a high note and thrilled Dryden will be taking over next year. Dryden has been very impressive as a physical education teacher, she said, and it was imperative to have someone who was already familiar with Keller's IB program.
“I think as a principal she will be a phenomenal leader to the staff within our building and think that she will advocate for our children, families and staff as well,” Savino said. “She’s the whole package.”
Upton Elementary School Principal John Grzywack expects to hear great things about Dryden in the principal setting as well because of the intricate role she played at Upton. Not only was she a physical education teacher, he said, but also she participated in the school improvement initiative, was on Upton’s leadership team, chaired the Blessings in a Backpack initiative and much more.
“I think the best part about being principal is that you have the opportunity to be hands-on with each student in the building,” Dryden said.
Although Dryden will miss seeing children active every day in gym class, after 15 years she is happy to move on to the next chapter.
“Having this be another chapter in my life and having it be in Royal Oak — I couldn’t be any prouder,” Dryden said.