“I cried all
the way home that first day”
Susie Riegle recalls her 31 years in the profession
By Bob Robinson
“I would hug your knee-caps except I’m too big!” Susie Riegle said in
greeting when we met for her interview a couple weeks ago. She had
obviously read my commentary posted that day on CNO.
Now that the dust has settled (a little) regarding Greenville Supt.
Susie Riegle’s impending retirement, I thought it appropriate to put my
two-cents worth in. It’s no longer breaking news, but her comments are
still noteworthy to our community.
“I’m retiring. Really,” she said, after we sat down in her office. The
decision was strictly financial.
“There are pending changes in the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment).
Currently, the COLA is two percent a year. If the change goes into
effect, there will be a five-year wait before any adjustment is made.”
She noted there were other concerns as well.
Currently, after 30 years you get 66 percent of your final three years
average salary. At 35 years, you get 88 percent. At 40 years, you get
“STR is really good,” she said. Then she noted that that could change
due to the economy and other factors.
“I’m at 31 years. If I retire now I can take advantage of the current
system. If I shoot for 35 years and the system changes before I retire,
I’m out of luck.”
She noted that none of this is signed legislation, but if it happens
Susie said other teachers are looking at the same concerns.
“They asked me what to do. I won’t tell them that. What I did tell them
was that I was in the same boat, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Is Susie ready for the “rocking chair”? Not by a long shot. She said
that she happened to mention in a meeting a while back that she was
“considering” retirement. She also noted that this option – often
referred to as “retire, rehire” – was not likely to be available with
the Greenville Board.
“You know what I really love are the kids, right?”
She said the super at Fairborn happened to remember her comment about
possibly retiring and called her… “What have you got?” She asked.
“Principal at Fairborn Elementary.”
“Oh My God! This is what I live for… adults sap the life out of you!
Kids fill you up!”
Her eyes lit up and suddenly a quiet, one-on-one interview was filled
with life and animation. She was noticeably excited about the chance to
work with “her kids” again.
I took the opportunity to show her a note that a first grader had
written to me the previous week. I was substituting for Mrs. Riffle and
as I often do at Woodland, I introduced myself as Mr. Robinson, but
just for today I get to be Mrs. Riffle.
The note said: “Dear Mr. Riffle. Will you be on Monday. P.s. hi. Love,
Susie laughed, then looked up… “You know, you will always be ‘Mr.
Riffle’ to that child, don’t you?”
I nodded, caught up in her amusement… with my apologies to the real Mr.
Riffle, of course.
“I’m ready for that again,” she said.
Susie noted that her biggest disappointment was not getting the new
facility passed for the kids. However, her biggest joys were helping
get a conference back for the school’s student athletes and moving the
District from Continuous Improvement to Excellent.
Susie started her career at New Lebanon… Dixie Middle School. And it
was evidently a rocky start. She recalled driving home after her first
day on the job…
“Nothing in college can prepare you for that first class,” she said. “I
cried all the way home at the end of that day. I wondered if I’d made
the right career choice.
“There is so much to learning… and about how to deal with kids.”
She said that the state testing system was a concern for her.
“The whole District is graded on the performance of 10-12 year old
kids,” she said. “Who knows what happened the night before or on the
Her message to the Board she served as Superintendent the past five
“We have some very good Central Office administrators here,” she said.
“If the Board will let them lead, we are in good hands. All are
quality, talented young men. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire any one of
them to lead the District.”
Susie’s official retirement date is July 30. She will be “retired” on
July 31, per the one-day legal mandate.
She starts at Fairborn on Aug. 1.