By Jenny Johnson –
“In 1952 I moved in to Wayne as a one-year old and my relationship with Wayne started,” said Greg Baracy, superintendent Wayne-Westland Community Schools. “I am very grateful for the support the community has given our team over the years. It has allowed us to transfer Wayne-Westland into a 21st century learning environment for all of our children.”
After 17 years as the leader of the school district, Baracy will retire this month. He is the longest serving superintendent in the history of Wayne-Westland Schools. The average tenure of a superintendent is 2 ½ to three years.
Baracy attended the former Jackson Elementary, Franklin Middle School and is a graduate of Wayne Memorial High School. He began his teacher career in 1973 as a high school teacher. He has taught at the college level, served as department chair, assistant principal, principal, vocational director and assistant superintendent for general administration.
He has both a Bachelor and Master Degree from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Wayne State University.
During his tenure Baracy has been proud of many district initiatives.
“I am most proud of the overwhelming success of the community support of the 1998 bond issue,” he said. “(The $108.3 million bond) laid the foundation for us to begin the transformation of the Wayne-Westland Community Schools.”
With this bond the district was able to update every building and bring technology into every classroom in the district. Students now have the capability to take state of the art virtual field trips where they can visit anywhere in the world from their classroom.
“On the instruction side there are so many programs that we have now that are good for kids and give them options that we didn’t have in the past,” he said. This includes more Advanced Placement and online classes for high school students, the Talented and Gifted program and the K-12 district-wide language opportunities.
In addition, all WWCS have received full North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Fourteen schools have received the Governor’s Golden Apple Award for improvement on MEAP scores; two Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary School Awards and established JROTC programs at John Glenn and Wayne Memorial High Schools.
Baracy first began thinking about retirement about four years ago.
“I have been trying to prepare myself emotionally to break from 24/7 365 day routine,” he said.
He is looking forward to having more time to do a little traveling with his wife, Gabby. They will visit their children, Gregory and Courtney, who both live out of state.
He also plans to spend a lot more time fishing, hunting and tinkering with his 1926 Ford Model T.
And he will have more time to volunteer in organizations.
“I am going to continue to serve on various boards throughout the community. It is a good way to give back,” he said.
Currently he is a board member of Champions of Wayne, Wayne 100 Club, Salvation Army Board of Directors, City of Wayne Emergency Operation Response Team Member, Westland Community Foundation Board of Directors, Wayne Rotary members and City of Wayne Parks and Recreation Board of Directors.
He has plans to stay busy but said he will still miss seeing the students in the district.
“I am going to miss the students and their innocence and their humor, comments, inspiration and things they say and do that put a smile on your face,” he said. “Especially in elementary schools. Going and visiting was rejuvenating to see the goodness taking place.”
“I will also miss seeing the success of our secondary students that excel in a sports, Career tech and academics. It has been a pleasure to see students succeed,” he said.
“I’ll miss the people and the friendships I have made over all of those years. And those who have been an inspiration to do the best I can for the community that I work with.”
It is also special to watch the seniors graduate every year.
“I still have the excitement of watching the kids cross the stage and seeing them reaching part of their goals,” Baracy said.
Hope for the future
The Class of 2027 will enter kindergarten this fall. Baracy sees a bright future for them in Wayne-Westland. “Our families can be assured that Wayne Westland is a safe and nurturing place to learn and students will have an appropriate and rigorous curriculum with updated materials and the latest technology available for instruction,” he said. The classroom environments are clean and fresh and conducive to learning and all of our teachers are highly qualified.”
As he prepares to leave the district he has been a part of since childhood, Baracy has nothing but pride and fond memories of his time spent in Wayne-Westland.
He has nothing but best wishes for the new superintendent Dr. Michele Harmala and the entire Wayne-Westland Schools community.
“As I leave I want to extend to the entire community a great amount of appreciation for not only their support but their guidance over the years,” he said. “They helped us make the right decisions for our kids and have positioned Wayne-Westland well to carry the district into the future. “