Susan Stuckey’s positivity was contagious, much like her passion for making a difference in kids’ lives.
From her first day in District 203 as principal of Ranch View Elementary back in 1996, to her 13 years leading Highlands Elementary, Stuckey always put her kids first.
“[Highlands School has] had a tradition of academic excellence, and Susan continued that tradition but with a very child focused element to it,” explained Kitty Ryan, the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education for School District 203. “She knew the name of every student in that school. Her motto was all for the kids, and for her it truly was.”
Maureen Dvorak, a close friend of Susan’s, remembers she always saw herself as a member of the team.
“She didn’t have that aura of ‘I’m the principal, you’re the staff, you’re the students’ It was always I’m the principal of our community and we’re a team,” said Dvorak.
Stuckey realized early on at Highlands that by encouraging parent involvement, she could enrich the education of her students; she helped grow their School Family Community Partnership or SFCP into what it is today.
“As parents, she always encouraged us to volunteer at school, and she really made you feel valued,” said Highlands School parent, and friend of Stuckey, Jessica Jozwiack. “She would personally call and invite us to be a part of a committee. She would send out thank-you notes when an event had taken place. She made you really feel like Highlands was a family.”
Even fellow administrators took note of her bonds with the community.
“She was very active and very adamant that the parent’s need to be a part of their children’s learning,” said Mark Pasztor, the former principal of Washington Junior High, which taught students from Highlands. “She did a very good job of getting the parents into the school to be a part of the school to know what the children needed.”
One tangible legacy Stuckey leaves behind is the Team Stuckey Educator scholarship fund, established in 2012.
With her husband Jeff fighting his own battle with diabetes and her diagnosis with breast cancer the Stuckey’s wanted to give back.
The fund awards $5,000 to two District 203 students studying education.
“I was hoping that would pass forward my love for education and two new people will be educated to be teachers and will make a difference,” Stuckey said in an interview during the 2013 Walk for Wale Wishes.
The community has rallied around Stuckey. For the past two years, Highland elementary has played host to the mile and a half Walk for Wale Wishes to fundraise.
The walk helped demystify cancer for her students and the Highland’s community, teaching everyone the power of positivity.
“You have to keep thinking positively and keep charging on,” said Stuckey in 2012. “Either you can either feel down or you can look at the bright spots and take all of the good positive news you get and roll with it.”
District officials say the third annual event in May will likely be a big celebration of Stuckey’s life and to remember her bravery and grace the cancer never could take away.
“The message that she shared with them about rising above cancer and fighting it as hard as you could was an amazing lesson,” said Jozwiack.
“When I think about Susan Stuckey, I think about a person who wasn’t given the gift of a long life, but somebody who used every minute of her life to do important things. I wish she would have had more years, but boy I don’t know anyone who ever used their years better than she did,” said Ryan.
Years she dedicated…all to the kids.
Susan Stuckey was 50 years old.
Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services. Funeral services will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
In lieu of flowers you can donate to the Team Stuckey Future Educator Scholarship Fund or The Edward Hospital Cancer Center.
Whitney Goodbred will have more on Stuckey’s life and how she touched our community in this month’s edition of Naperville News Extra, premiering on January 21 at 8 p.m.
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