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Glueck clicks with her job as kindergarten principal

Friday, February 22, 2002

(Photo)
Although Vera Glueck has been nominated as a Missouri Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals' Distinguished Principal.
SIKESTON - Vera Glueck doesn't do the extra little things for any reason other than making children's first school experience a positive one.

So imagine her surprise at recently learning she was nominated as a Missouri Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals' Distinguished Principal. She is one of 13 nominees from Missouri.

The annual recognition honors exemplary elementary and middle school principals who set the pace, character and quality of the education children receive during their early school years. Public school principals are nominated by peers in their home states.

The Sikeston Kindergarten Center principal still finds it hard to believe.

"Oh, I was just absolutely thrilled to find out about being nominated. It's very difficult to explain what I'm feeling," she said. "I'm very proud to be recognized for what I do and yet I feel a little bit humbled and embarrassed. It feels funny to be recognized for doing something that I wanted to do in life."

In addition to being honored here Thursday night at a roast hosted by friends and colleagues, she will travel to the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach March 9 where she will be a guest at the 13th annual State Distinguished Principals Banquet. It is there that someone will become the state's newest Distinguished Principal.

She insists if she does win the title, she'll still be the same person. "We've never had anyone from the southeast district win this, wouldn't that be something," she said. "If I do win I'll be very excited but as far as getting a big head, you don't stay that way very long when you're working with kindergarten students, they'll cut you down to size real fast," she laughed.

Her career in education started in the kindergarten classroom where she taught for 14 years before making a big career change. She explained she was teaching at the Kindergarten Center when Sharon Gunn announced she would be leaving her job as kindergarten principal to move to the Board of Education office. That was when everything changed for Glueck.

"I thought I just believe that I could do that job and I think I could do it pretty well," recalled Glueck. "I mentioned to Sharon that I might be interested in looking at that position and she was very encouraging. She gave me some information about what steps to take. I started looking into getting my specialist degree and pretty soon I was just wrapped up in it completely." This is her 11th year as principal at kindergarten.

Looking back on her first years as principal, she offered some suggestions for those considering becoming a principal. Make sure it's what you want, she advised, noting there are sacrifices involved such as spare time. Being a good listener and having good communications skills are musts, too, she said.

It's not difficult for Glueck to pinpoint the one aspect of the job she enjoys most. It's the children of course, she said without hesitation.

"I have always, even as a young child, liked little kids. I always wanted to babysit and play house. Children are so sweet, they make me feel so important. I can smile at that child and his reaction just means so much to me. I feel like it's my mission in life to do things for and to serve young children and their needs. That's where I feel the best and where I think I do my best work, it's my passion."

Glueck said her greatest reward as principal comes about this time of the year when what the students are learning shines through.

"It is a big responsibility and an honor. I look on it every year as an honor to work with these children because parents are trusting us with their most precious possessions. When I see those little guys maturing and developing that love for learning and having that confidence that they can learn and have learned, that's my reward."