Michele Story is biggest cheerleader for Elmwood
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Saturday, 16 February 2013 09:15
JERRY CITY - Michele Story doesn't describe herself as a cheerleader, but that's exactly what she is for Elmwood School students.
|Elmwood athletic director Michelle Story in the athletic hallway at Elmwood schools in Bloomdale, Ohio on February 12, 2013. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Whether it's as athletic director or student activities director, she puts students first and foremost, and goes out of her way to recognize them at ball games as well as community events.
For example, for Tuesday's senior night at the home boys basketball game, she talked seniors into videotaping a message for their parents to be shown as they ran out onto the court.
"There won't be a dry eye in the house," Story laughed the afternoon before the game.
She duplicated the action for Thursday's senior girls basketball game.
"I thought it was well received," said Superintendent Tony Borton about the idea.
While it was a surprise Tuesday, parents were expecting it Thursday.
Story "goes above and beyond what her job title entails," he stated.
"I enjoy watching them have success. I'm hoping I'm making memories these kids will have the rest of their lives," Story stated about the endeavor.
She isn't one to sit back and let others take charge.
She is taking on prom in May and a dance marathon in April to teach students to foxtrot, waltz, and maybe even polka and salsa. Also in April, she's planning a dinner with former Elmwood football coach and now defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens Dean Pees as a fundraiser for the football stadium.
She'll do public relations for the high school musical "Annie."
"I do that every year. I love that," she stated.
She also has instigated a staff badminton competition.
Borton and his partner played, and were beat in the first round.
"The teams that are playing are seeming to have a ball," he said.
Over the holidays, Story organized - and sold out - a home tour as a fundraiser for prom.
"People are asking if that will become a yearly event," she said.
She also does PR for the jazz supper in the spring as well as Taste of Royalty in the fall.
Sitting at her desk in an office with quotes from staff painted on the walls, she looked at her calendar and pointed out she doesn't have a free weekend until graduation.
"When she walks into my office and says she has an idea, I cringe," admitted Borton. "The joke around here is we have to learn how to tell her no."
Outside her door, the bland beige hallway has perked up with a blue stripe with painted sayings such as "Roll Down the Field to Victory," "You'll Never Yield," and "Get the Ball."
When she took over as AD in 2009, she found the hallway "so boring. This needed something," she decided.
So she painted the motivational sayings herself, and collected photos of the 14 varsity teams to frame and hang in the hallway.
Some photos she took herself; for older photos, she reached out to the community.
She does all she does while being paid 30 hours a week. She admits, though, she sometimes puts in double that.
She attends every sporting event.
"But I enjoy it. That's why I do it."
"I hope it means as much to the kids to look up into the crowd and see me, as it means for me to be there for them."
A 1981 Elmwood graduate, it was Story's dream to become a teacher. But when that didn't work out, she started her career at her alma mater in 1996 as secretary at the former Wayne Elementary building.
"There was never a day I didn't get up and didn't want to go to work," she recalled.
She became elementary secretary in the consolidated building in 2004, but then started looking for a new challenge and spoke to then Superintendent Steve Pritts about becoming athletic director.
"I jumped in, and I've enjoyed it. There's not a kid here I don't know."
Her next goal is to get bronze plaques for the football stadium for Elmwood's three individual state champions in track.
She's the only female athletic director in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
"Eight guys plus me," she said. "They've been so helpful in guiding me through things."
Her contract with Elmwood was just extended through 2015, but then she plans to retire and move some place warmer.
Her dream job? Be a wedding planner at Disney in Florida.
Her dream before she retires?
"If I could have one wish, it's to have a state champion team," she said.
"I don't care which (sport) it is. Think of the celebration I could plan then," she said with a laugh.