CHICAGO - After 41 years, a beloved elementary school principal in Lake View is retiring.
Students and parents at St. Luke's Academy said Donna Beck will be missed terribly, but that she has set up the school for success in the years to come.
"She's been a great teacher and mentor both to myself and to the children, and she has done everything she can, and gone way above and beyond," said one mother who has three daughters at St. Luke's.
"She has set this legacy and a support system for all the kids and parents here," added a fellow parent.
"I am grateful for having had these decades here," said Beck, whose time at St. Luke's began in the late 1960s as a young student. Through the years, she earned herself a reputation as "mischievous" and gave her own teachers "a run for their money."
"It was my foundation in the academic world," Beck said. "It was my son's foundation in the academic world, and there just was something about it that made me feel that I always wanted to do something here with the school."
During her time at St. Luke's, Beck taught every grade, served as a Sunday School leader, and coached softball and basketball. One night in 2006, Beck got a mid-week phone call saying in the morning, she'd become the acting principal — a role she's held on to ever since, leading the small, neighborhood school to new heights.
"Not only are we here, but we're good," said Beck. "The school is really good. Our reading and math scores are above the 80th percentile. It's because we're small."
As Beck says goodbye, she said she'd like to see enrollment in the school continue to grow, from its current K through 2nd, all the way back up to the 300+ students it had when she attended as a child.
"This has been an incredible experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I will be watching," said Beck.
As for what's next for Donna Beck, she said she plans on acrylic painting, tutoring, and eventually moving west to be closer to her two sons who live in California and Arizona.