Brock, Dronyk, and Fee named to Educator Hall of Fame

posted Apr 2, 2017, 6:15 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 2, 2017, 6:27 AM ]
Hall of Fame Breakfast
On Thursday, April 6, 2017 three outstanding former educators will be inducted into the Educator Hall of Fame of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation. Leonard Brock, Cindy Dronyk, and Ed Fee will form the eighth class of educators so honored. The induction will be at a special breakfast from 7-8:30 a.m. at the Bartlesville Community Center. Tickets to the ceremony went for $30 and were available until April 1.

The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation has been investing in students and staff members within the district since 1985. Over the decades, the non-profit organization has funded more than $2 million in creative projects outside of the traditional state, local and federal sources to support state-of-the-art instruction. The money generated by the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies helps to fund the organization’s programs.
Leonard Brock

Leonard Brock

Leonard Brock worked in elementary schools for 24 years, rising from school teacher to principal while at Bartlesville, and going on to become the district’s first Director of Elementary Education. After retirement, he soon returned to drive a district bus for 14 years.

Leonard’s combined 38 years of commitment to schoolchildren and his leadership during critical times for the Bartlesville Public Schools are why he was selected to be inducted into the eighth class of the Educator Hall of Fame of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation. Joining Leonard in this year’s class will be esteemed former Bartlesville educators Cindy Dronyk and Ed Fee.

Leonard will tell you he was not a good student growing up in Fairland, Oklahoma. He even quit school in his sophomore year. But a few months of farming with a team of horses convinced him to go back and finish his junior and senior years. It helped that he could play football and was a self-described sports fanatic. That interest eventually paid off. After he graduated a semester after the others in his class, he went into the Army and two years later was going to college on the G.I. bill with a football scholarship.

He started at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami and then graduated from Northeastern State College in Tahlequah with a major in Physical Education. He and his wife, Mary, moved to California to teach. But she was homesick, so a few years later they returned to Oklahoma to teach in Bartlesville’s Limestone school district, which included the Limestone, Ranch Heights, and Wayside schools. They were absorbed into the Bartlesville district, and Leonard was teaching elementary classes half of the day and serving as a school principal for the other half, with no secretary and only one phone in the building. He worked at Wayside and then Ranch Heights, only to be recalled to Wayside, a week before school started one year, to solve a crisis.

The principal and custodian had resigned. The building had doubled in size, but construction was not ready for the start of classes. In fact, the new rooms wouldn’t be ready until the next calendar year, and the older rooms had no windows. Everything had been packed into the gym, and the cafeteria was filled with ceiling tiles. Leonard had quite a mess on his hands. He matched up two teachers to each usable classroom and got the cafeteria cleared out so that he could drop in a phone line and have his office at one end, have his wife teaching kindergarten at the other end, with the kids eating in the middle. Mary was also a beloved educator, and is already a member of the BPSF Educator Hall of Fame, having been inducted into its second class six years ago.

Leonard’s leadership landed him the position of the district’s first Director of Elementary Education and serving as Principal of the new Richard Kane Elementary. The end of the baby boom had brought another crisis. Bartlesville had two underpopulated junior high schools and too many elementary schools. Leonard helped develop and sell the successful middle school concept, transforming the junior highs to serving grades 6-8 while consolidating elementary schools. He recalls promoting the plan on the west side of town with Earl Sears while Bill Dunlap and Bill Beierschmitt promoted it on the east side of town. 

After he retired in the 1980s, Leonard went to work in Kansas for awhile, but returned to Bartlesville to join his brother-in-law and fellow former principal, David Boone, in driving a district bus. He drove a country route for 14 years, earning “mad money” for his retirement. He’ll tell you some of his best friends were his fellow bus drivers. Leonard will also admit that he “liked being around kids and all that kind of business.”
Cindy Dronyk

Cindy Dronyk

Cindy Dronyk’s commitment to education has never wavered. When she retired in 2007 after teaching math at Bartlesville High School for over 20 years, she promptly began mentoring a fifth grade girl through the Lowe Family Young Scholars program. A decade later, that girl has grown into a young woman who is a sophomore at Rogers State University in Claremore and has been on the Dean’s list for the last two semesters. Cindy Dronyk has been there all along, helping that student thrive.

Cindy Dronyk brought that same commitment to her teaching and leadership in Bartlesville Public Schools from 1984-2007, which has earned her induction into the eighth class of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation’s Educator Hall of Fame, along with two former teachers and administrators in the school district - Leonard Brock and Ed Fee.

Cindy also works with the Bartlesville Westside Community Center to help youth prepare for and find summer employment, and she serves on the board of the Washington County School Supply Drive, which donated over 2,400 filled backpacks last year to school children who needed school supplies. When asked why she is so committed to helping underprivileged children, she explains, “They are our future. If we don’t help them become productive members of society, we are jeopardizing our future.”

Growing up in the south during the Civil Rights Movement also influenced her to reach out. Cindy grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where her mother was a nurse and her father owned a small cafe. Cindy loved school, and recalls, “I was so excited to get my own library card when I was six. Eventually I became President of the Student Library Assistants of Mississippi - the S.L.A.M.!” 

Cindy majored in math at the Mississippi State College for Women and married Mike Dronyk, her husband of 47 years. She began her teaching career in Fontana, California in 1972, as the only female in the math department of a high school with 2,500 students. Cindy and Mike later relocated to London, England and then Stavanger, Norway, before coming to Bartlesville in 1984. Her philosophy in teaching high school math was, “I felt that every person can do math, they just might do it at a different rate than others. I wanted them to persevere and not give up.”

Regarding teaching in high school, Cindy comments, “I enjoyed the students. I loved their personalities - I like the idea that they are just starting out and what they may become. I am glad to have played a small part in helping these people who are so successful in life.”

Long a leader among teachers, Cindy was the President of the Bartlesville Education Association who helped the district resolve a difficult financial shortfall in 1995. Today she serves as communications chair of the Oklahoma Retired Educators and as Treasurer of the Washington County Retired Educators Association.
Ed Fee

Ed Fee

Ed Fee knows firsthand how valuable the Bartlesville Public School Foundation is for enhancing the education of Bartlesville students. During his 36 years of service in the district, he was awarded grants by the Foundation to assist his professional growth as a school administrator. Now the Foundation has tapped Ed Fee to be part of the eighth class of veteran educators to be inducted into its Educator Hall of Fame. Joining Ed in this year’s class will be Cindy Dronyk and Leonard Brock.

Ed Fee graduated from Watonga High School and earned his bachelors and masters degrees at Oklahoma State University. At OSU, one of his professors commented, “You will be teaching our future leaders!” How true that was. In 1963, during his first year of teaching, Earl Sears was a ninth grader in one of Ed’s industrial arts classes. Earl remarked that he would become a teacher one day. Not only did Earl do that, but he wound up also teaching industrial arts at the beginning of a 32-year career as a teacher and later principal at Bartlesville’s Central Middle School. Earl extended that leadership into politics, and has been a state legislator since 2007.

Another student of Ed’s in his first year of teaching was Jeff Grisham, who grew up to become a local ophthalmologist. Not long ago, Dr. Grisham was operating on Ed’s eyes. Ed couldn’t resist reminding his doctor what he had been taught in industrial arts: “Measure twice, cut once!”

Ed taught and mentored many future leaders over his long career in the district. After teaching industrial arts and woodworking at Central Junior High, he went on to teach Driver’s Ed at College and Sooner Highs and become an administrator over Adult Education. He was later named a Vice-Principal at Sooner High under John Coale and was an Assistant Principal when Sooner High became Bartlesville Mid-High. 

Ed has many fond memories of his professional colleagues. He appreciates how former superintendents G. M. Roberts and Wayne Richardson and former principal and superintendent Bill Beierschmitt supported him during his start in administration. He also remarked how he is delighted to be joining a Hall of Fame that includes former administrator Ron Jared.

Ed credits the many teachers he worked with over the years for helping him grow as a teacher and for making him proud to serve with them. While in Bartlesville, Ed met and married Mary Sue, an English teacher who continued to work in Adult Education after Ed retired in 2000. Mary Sue recently joined Ed in retirement, and their son Kent is an architect in Virginia, while their daughter Kathy is a lawyer who lives in Edmond with her husband and their twin daughters. Kathy’s husband worked with NATO in Belgium for the previous five years, and Ed remarked that since he retired he and Mary Sue have been able to travel more. He happily says, “Who knew visiting our kids and family would require so much travel?”