A fond farewell

Stratford school students, staff host retirement party for Sarah Binder

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Chris Anderson Sarah Binder, seated left, principal and superintendent at Stratford Elementary School, watches as kindergarten students present a play at her retirement party Wednesday afternoon. The students and staff members hosted the party in the school cafeteria.

STRATFORD — Students of Stratford Elementary took center stage as they, along with faculty, hosted a retirement party for outgoing principal and superintendent, Sarah Binder.

Binder came to the school district in 1993 as a curriculum coordinator for Northeast Hamilton, Webster City, and Stratford. A few years later she became principal and superintendent of Stratford Elementary.

Students from pre-school to the 6th grade made their way to the Stratford cafeteria where they had planned a retirement party for Binder. Also in attendance were current and past staff members who had worked with Binder.

1st and 2nd grade teacher, Gina Monroe, talked about the work students put in to the event. Students told jokes, read poems and thank you notes they wrote, sang a song, and showcased a dance for Binder.

“We tried to figure out something else she really enjoys doing, which she dances, so we found some easy steps and they practiced and practiced for Mrs. Binder,” Monroe said.

Monroe noticed many recurring themes throughout the Thank You’s students wrote. She felt that the students were very grateful for the great lengths Binder goes through to look after students, like spending time outside during recess when most principals would be in their office.

“She’s out there when they get off the bus in the morning first thing, she comes in at recess, she’s very personal with them and makes sure she talks with each kid,” Monroe said, “She makes sure they’re happy and smiles at everybody,”

Teachers at Stratford Elementary have seen many changes in recent years. The school has moved from single teacher classrooms to mixed age multi teacher classrooms and has greatly expanded their use of technology with teaching.

Monroe said Binder has been instrumental in bringing in these new changes for the benefit of students.

“What I’ve known of Sarah is its always kids first,” Monroe said.

It seems to be the consensus around Stratford that Binder has always been in it for the kids. Stratford School Board President Julie Patterson shared that sentiment.

Patterson shared that the school board was sad to see Binder go but was excited with her replacement, Josh Culberson.

“We’re very excited that he’s from here, he’ll be very community minded,” Patterson said.

Patterson felt some of the greatest accomplishments Binder made for Stratford Elementary was through her writing of grants that saved the school money. She also mentioned Binder often thought outside of the box when it came to new teaching strategies.

“We’re very happy she will enjoy retirement. She has been the rock that holds this place together for a long time,” Patterson said.

After the party, which included cake and punch for teachers and students, Binder expressed her gratitude to her students for holding such an event.

“I thought it was wonderful, they’re very talented to put the whole thing together,” Binder said.

Binder says the things she will miss most about being at Stratford Elementary will be the students she sees every day. However, she feels confident the school will be in a good place after she leaves.

“There’s a great staff here, and a wonderful community. Working together this is a very good school for kids,” Binder said.