Clay Frye, a 1995 graduate of Willard High School, has been a supervisor at Pioneer Career and Technology Center for the past several years. When the new school year starts in August, Frye will still be at Pioneer but will serve as high school principal. He is the first Willard High School graduate to serve as principal.
Education came naturally to Frye. His mother, Sally, is a retired teacher in the local district. His father, Dave, was an engineer at R.R. Donnelley & Sons before retirement. His local roots are buried deeply.
Both sets of grandparents lived here there entire lives, Frye pointed out. Coming home is one of the reasons he came to Pioneer.
Frye earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in education, along with his master’s degree in 2005.
Before coming to Pioneer, he was Vanguard Career and Technology Center in Fremont. He was there for eight years.
“An opportunity became available at Pioneer, and I jumped on it,” he explained.
Frye said he did not attend Pioneer while a student at Willard High School. But a chance to come home and shorten his drive every day was a major plus for the move for his first position as a supervisor at Pioneer.
“I thought I had a good chance because I’ve spent 15 years as an administrator in career and technical schools,” he explained. “I worked at EHOVE Career Center prior to going to Vanguard.”
His daughter was entering the seventh grade. Frye said she was involved in more activities.
“I didn’t want to sacrifice missing anything she was going to be in,” he noted. “I thought it was a unique opportunity to see Willard kids walking the halls of the school.”
Frye said he spent seven years in the classroom as a teacher before going into administration.
“I had a superintendent of the school system where I worked come to me and say, ‘I think you would be good as an administrator,’” he recalled. “I taught and I coached. I guess they just saw something in me.”
Frye said he had given some thought to eventually moving into administration because his uncle, John Frye, was the principal at Tiffin Columbian when he was at Willard High School. John then went to Coldwater as superintendent and then to Milford as superintendent. His uncle became his mentor.å
Making the move several years ago to Pioneer was like coming home, according to Frye.
“It’s fun on Fridays,” he said. “Our students can wear either Pioneer or their home school attire. This year we started letting our staff wear Pioneer pride or home school attire of one of our member schools.
“On Friday, I wear Willard attire,” Frye said. “It’s awesome to see Willard kids walk the halls and see me and say, ‘Oh, you’re from Willard, too.’
“It’s a familiar thing for them and some comfort,” he added. “Kids leave their home schools and go to a new school where we have around 1,200 students.”
Frye said his official start date is Aug. 1. The transition is already taking place.
“It’s not completely new to me,” Frye pointed out. “I’ve been a principal before.”
Frye contemplated which area he had more to offer - teaching or administration.
“I think I have a lot to offer in both,” he said. “I love teaching, and I love coaching. I coached my kids in their youth sports coming up.
“I think as an administrator, you have a greater ability to impact a larger number of kids,” Frye pointed out. “As a high school teacher, I impacted maybe 100.”
Coaching, he noted, allowed him to have an impact on even more students.
“As an administrator, I feel like I have the ability to impact an entire school full of kids,” he explained. “I am absolutely up for this challenge.”
Frye said he left Vanguard to be closer to home. Pioneer gave his just that opportunity.
He and his wife, Denise, and their two children make their home in the Willard area. Both of his children have given some thought of going to Pioneer when they are juniors.
“We live in Willard,” Frye said. “Our roots are in Willard. Our kids go to Willard. I graduated from Willard. I wanted to get somewhere, and the opportunity to be at the career center where Willard’s kids go, that’s why I’m here.”