A Bear Joins the Coyote Family


Cedar Grove Elementary School

Lee Derby is the visiting principal at CHS.

Kaylee Towey, Editor in Chief

Some students have begun to notice a new face in the building, and many have picked up on the fact that an old one is missing.

CHS welcomed Cedar Grove Elementary School Principal Lee Derby at the start of 2017 as he assumes the role of acting 9th grade administrator. Until Feb. 17, Principal Intern Brandi Heckert will be the acting principal, while Principal Steve Whiting is visiting Fox Chapel Elementary.

Derby was working at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, a school for students with emotional and learning disabilities, when he wanted a more normal schedule to be home with his family. After becoming a teacher and “[seeing] some things that [he] felt weren’t done the best way, [Derby] got into a position where [he] could do something about it.” As an administrator, he has been doing something about it for 15 years.

Derby never considered any educational level other than elementary. His mother was an elementary school principal, and he said “I like to be silly and have fun with the kids, so [elementary] seems like a good match.”

However, Derby is excited to learn more about high school, for himself and for his students, and to “see firsthand all the great things I hear about.” The experience will help Derby better prepare his students for life after elementary school.

His first surprise of high school–his first morning standing at the entrance of CHS. “I could’ve been a pillar,” Derby joked. But he went on to add how students have been going up to him, asking who he is and introducing themselves. He said “I love seeing my former students, and seeing what’s happening now compared to where they were.”

He is also getting used to how everything is driven by the clock, with high school lacking that flexibility that is given to elementary school teachers. While he does not know his way around the building yet, he has enjoyed the welcoming nature and the “feeling of teamwork, good spirit, and good community” in the school.

Derby teased that while he is at CHS, he is going to do his best to be a strong coyote fan, but both his kids are Damascus alumni. Nevertheless, Derby can be seen sporting his CHS gear during school and at basketball games.

While visiting, Derby wants to work to make CHS a more green school. He laughed and said he has been “turning off lights all over the place.” He loves to be outside, whether that be to run, kayak, play with his two dogs, or visit the beach.

Although he misses knowing everything that is going on in the school, “I really want to help out, in whatever way I need to at Clarksburg,” Derby said.

Derby added, “it’s been really nice to talk to students on an adult level about their classes, future plans, and just life. That’s something I really can’t do at Cedar Grove.”