“Two steps forward, one step back” – that’s the motto many educators live by as they work to provide direction and guidance for their students.
For the better part of his 57 years, Dave Yenrick has been affiliated with Waite High School in one way or another.
Whether as a student, teacher or administrator, Yenrick has attended or been employed by Waite High for 44 years – roughly three-quarters of his life.
Waite High School Principal David Yenrick, discusses the renovations
Today, Yenrick is in his 18th year as head principal at Waite.
“It’s pretty special (being at my alma mater),” he said. “At Waite, there have only been 10 principals; six have been from the East Side and five were Waite grads. It’s been tradition.”
The school, which is named for Morrison Waite, a former Toledo resident who served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1874-88, is in its 99th year of existence, and Yenrick, who is in his 35th year of service with Toledo Public Schools.
After graduating from the University of Toledo in ‘78, Yenrick returned to Waite as a special education teacher, working there for 13 years before moving onto Woodward High to serve as the school’s assistant principal. After serving for four years at Woodward, he returned home to Waite to take the over as head principal in 1995.
Yenrick, whose wife, Carolyn, is one of the deans of the school, credits his fourth-grade teacher, Patricia Hanley with inspiring him to seek a career in education.
“I knew I wanted to get into education after I was in Mrs. Hanley’s class,” Yenrick said. “She was an inspiration to me.”
Being the principal means that, in addition to confronting the big picture, one must also deal with the little things –like enforcing the dress code, picking up debris in the hallway and making sure students are getting to and from class on time. It’s like that at every school.
It means also changing with the times.
“Things seem to remain the same, but technology has changed a lot,” he said. “We used to have to type our own notes and run them on a ditto machine; computers were just starting up in the early ‘80s. The technology has changed. The social economics have changed some, too. Times are tough. But when I talk to some of the people from ‘30s and ‘40s, their families struggled just as much.”
And the Waite community has fallen upon hard times in recent years. Yenrick notes that 85 percent of his students are eligible for “free or reduced lunches” under the National School Lunch Program, a sign of the tough economic times for the Glass City. A city that saw its population rise to nearly 384,000 in 1970, Toledo is now home to 286,000 residents. During that period, TPS has closed three high schools, most recently Libbey in 2010.
But Waite has endured. The school, which employs just over 100 teachers, administrators and support staff personnel, is located at 301 Morrison Dr. and enjoys a picturesque view of the Toledo skyline from its perch along the Maumee River.
And while there is strength in numbers, there is also strength in community pride and, most especially, success. East Side Toledoans are a proud group, and Waite has been a staple in the community for nearly 10 decades from which residents draw much pride, Yenrick said.
“There will always be a public high school on the East Side.”
Athletically, the Indians have had a nice run of late, winning four City League titles in wrestling in the previous decade and the girls basketball team embarked on an historic run when it advanced to the Division I State Final in 2010 before losing in heartbreaking fashion to Canton McKinley, 49-47.
Yenrick is especially proud of some of the community-service projects the student body has undertaken this year, among them the 60 holiday baskets that were donated to needy area families and the donations students have made at blood drives (over 200 pints).
With all the problems facing public education, not to mention the fact that he will soon be joining the ranks of the retired, Yenrick is confident that Waite High School will be around for many years hereafter.
“With the work ethic on the East Side and the support of the alumni association, I think (Waite) will remain a mainstay. It’s a beacon of hope for many of our public school students.”
Waite High School Principal David Yenrick, discusses the renovations at the school with East Toledo Club members Bob Krompak, Denny Fairchild, Paul Gibbs, Sr., and Clint Longenecker.