Wendy Robinson’s only goal June 30 was to not let her emotions get the better of her. But, after 47 years of service to Fort Wayne Community Schools, it was hard to finally say goodbye to the district in which she’s spent most of her life.
Robinson, FWCS’ superintendent for the past 17 years, officially retired June 30, a day that Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry declared Dr. Wendy Robinson Day.
“This is going to be an absolutely chock-full-of-emotion day,” Robinson said as she prepared to bid farewell to hundreds of friends, colleagues, students and other community members forming a caravan of cars to thank her, one by one, for her work. “This is all I’ve known since I was 5 years old, so I’m trying to focus on all the positive things. I was cleaning out my office and I made myself remember and laugh. Everything in my office had a purpose and a reason, and that’s the way I’ve tried to be for 47 years. The purpose and the reason was always kids.”
Robinson was treated to a brief ceremony outside Northrop High School, in which Mayor Henry read his proclamation — which is more than just a piece of paper, he said. “From time to time, people do look at the history of our city, and we want them to know why certain days are so special to the city of Fort Wayne. … Wendy has done so many great things for our community that it definitely deserves a proclamation.”
Robinson said of the mayor’s proclamation, “One of the things that I’ve always believed in is we don’t exist as a school system without the community, and the mayor and I, from the time he was elected we’ve had each other on speed dial. I think that having him come is just another part of it, just another member of the family.”
Like most events this spring and summer, the sendoff was tailored to social distancing guidelines. Robinson wasn’t able to hug or shake hands with anyone as she was inclined to do. Nevertheless, she noted her mother always told her to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
“It’s overwhelming. This is not my style, but it’s a good thing because at least I have some closure,” she said.
In her 47 years working in FWCS, Robinson has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and district administrator. Robinson began her teaching career at Ward Elementary School in 1973. She is a graduate of Central High School (now Anthis Career Center), and is the first FWCS graduate to become superintendent of the district.
Robinson is replaced by Mark Daniel, who officially started his tenure July 1. Robinson said much of the transition between superintendents has been handled by her staff.
“Fort Wayne Community Schools was a wonderful, great, successful district not because of me, but because of the people I hire, and then I give them the responsibility of creating things that are right for kids, so they’ve done most of the talking,” she said. “I’ll take his calls — let’s put it that way — but I think when you leave a job it’s always unhealthy to try to tell the next person how to do the job. He’s an experienced superintendent, and the one thing I left him was a strong district and a strong staff, so it will be up to him to decide what happens after that.”