Eby’s final graduation
“Prepare your heart to front the hour, but dream not that the hour will last.”
Lord Alfred Tennyson.
As one who has always loved quotes and used them frequently throughout her years of leadership, that quote by Tennyson is one of the words of wisdom EHS Principal Joane Eby will leave behind when she retires after eight years at Ephrata on June 30.
Eby became principal at EHS on July 1, 2006 after literally traveling the globe in the course of a very illustrious lifetime. Born in Lassa, Nigeria to missionary parents, she attended boarding school in Jos, Nigeria until a senior in high school. Her senior year was nearby at Conestoga High School in Wayne. Following high school, her undergraduate work was at Thiel College in Greenville, which included one year and two summers spent at the University of Strasbourg, France.
“I ended with a double major in social studies and French,” remembered Eby. “My master’s degree in gifted education is from the University of Connecticut. My initial administrative certification came from University of Oregon and then I added the PA certification.”
Eby began her administrative work in Philomath, Oregon where she spent two years as an assistant principal and then three years as the principal of Philomath High School.
“In 2003, we were in the ‘empty nest’ mode as both our children had left home for their own careers, and my mother, who was widowed at the time, was living in Ephrata,” explained Eby. “As her health was not as strong as it had been, my husband and I decided it was time to move closer to her. After interviews along the east coast, I was fortunate to land the principal position in Radnor Township,and spent three years there as principal of Radnor High School.”
Interestingly, this was the same area to which her parents had moved upon their return from Nigeria in 1967. Eby remembered the influence an assistant principal had on her life at the time. Having just come back from growing up in Nigeria, she was suffering from a painful period of culture shock.
“I spent my senior year of high school in Conestoga High School in Wayne,” recalled Eby. “It was during that senior year that I came to know the assistant principal there, Mr. McCardill, and realized a person in that position could be more than a disciplinarian. He apparently recognized my stress and anguish and learning that I was an avid horseback rider, he introduced me to his two fox hunting horses. After several trial rides with him, he turned over his horses to me any afternoon after school to exercise them; it was indeed the saving factor for my sanity that year. Every day after school, even in minus degree temperatures, I went to his barn, saddled up a horse and took off across the fields for at least an hour. I have, obviously, never forgotten this unusual gift, and as I went into administration he remained my role model.”
After three years as principal at Radnor, the principal position opened at Ephrata High School.
“It was exactly what I was looking for and was fortunate to be hired,” noted Eby. “Not only did I gain an incredible school, but I was blessed to be able to assist my mother through her last years.”
Looking back, Eby reflected on some of the biggest changes which took place while she was at EHS.
“On the very positive, there has been an excellent increase in the rigor of course content and course offerings,” explained Eby. “When I came there were eight AP courses; we now offer 14 with plans to add another in another year. Our AP scores are excellent and are part of the reason we have had three years running of recognition by the US News and World Report as one of the top US high schools. That only comes from a full team effort, and EHS has a great team.”
In addition, Eby pointed to curriculum work which has seen continual positive progress. Syllabus outlines are available for all courses and can be viewed via the school website.
“Constant readjustment occurs to further align the content with first PSSA’s and now Keystones,” added Eby. “This is not easy work.”
She has also overseen the uniformity in grading percentages which have been developed and implemented grades 9-12 and the development of courses within the departments that can result in college credit. This began on Eby’s watch and continues to expand especially in social studies, science and agriculture.
Eby also commented on what she felt were more troubling developments during her term.
“In 2006, I had a teaching staff of 95.5 with two teachers shared with other schools; I presently have a teaching staff of 79.6 with nine teachers shared with other schools,” explained Eby. “This notably increases the complexity in creating a master schedule that serves all students and also creates regular juggling during altered schedule days due to testing and/or weather. Inevitably, student load has increased for the teachers which increases the difficulty to find time for teachers to connect one-on-one with students.”
Throughout her career, Mrs. Eby has made it a priority to develop a positive working relationship between administrators and staff. In fact, asked what she will miss most about her time at Ephrata, she alluded to that fact.
“I will always miss the interaction with students and staff,” said Eby. “Students for their teenage exuberance and determination to “find their wings” at this age, and staff for their genuine enjoyment of seeing students “get it” in their content area and for their intellectual discussions.”
Beyond retirement, Eby has big plans ahead, including pursuing her love of writing and square dancing with her husband. Unfortunately for the Ephrata community, Eby said she ultimately plans to move back to the northwest to be closer to her children who are in Arizona and Oregon.
And while she may not walk the halls of Ephrata High School this coming fall, her legacy will be felt for years to come. Asked about that legacy, she said she hoped to be remembered as that person who was a positive role model for leadership, especially by the female teens, believed in the power of youth to make the world better, and made her expectations of respect and honoring of diversity known throughout the school. In addition, she hopes she will be remembered as that person who helped bring stability to a staff so they could expand and grow beyond the point where she joined them, and enabled the enhancement of the curriculum and course offerings. And most of all, she hopes to be remembered as someone that loved and honored the students and staff under her charge.
“That is good enough for me,” she concluded. “I believe I am the first female principal at EHS. I trust I did honor to the position.
“I have truly enjoyed the work at EHS,” said Eby. “The students are amazing in their support of charity causes and in their ability to raise donations for the events they undertake. No school before has taken on this type of commitment to do good for those in need to the degree that our students embrace this work. It has been wonderful to see.”
And finally, she closed with this thought:
“The world is a rose garden; may EHS students and staff show our state and national leaders that its beauty can have a greater impact than its thorns!”
Without a doubt, Mrs. Joane Eby will be sorely missed.
For additional information on the Ephrata Area School District, visit easdpa.org.
Gary P. Klinger is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.