This week’s Portage Life in the Spotlight is Mary Tracy, the new Assistant Superintendent of Portage Township School replacing Dr. Ric Frataccia, who moved into the Superintendent’s position. She has been teaching for 28 years, all of them in Portage. Tracy grew up in Illinois with seven brothers and sisters. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University with a degree in learning disability and elementary education.
She previously taught at Aylesworth Elementary and Kyle Elementary as a learning disabilities instructor and as a fifth grade teacher before becoming the principal of Aylesworth Elementary where she stayed for 13 years.
“I wasn’t a kid that disliked school. I loved learning,” she added. “I saw education as an opportunity to change my life.”
Tracy, who has been teaching for 28 years, says it was her teachers that helped guide her in to teaching. She never thought that she would be making such a difference in the classroom.
“I had teachers that were very influential. They taught me that education can change your life and was very important and had value,” she added.
Tracy was working blind when she started to apply to schools and go to college. According to her, she had no idea what a financial aid form was.
“It was a culture shock,” she said. “I went to a school where a lot of people were involved. I was there on scholarships, grants and financial aid so it was a great experience just getting to know other people.”
There was one experience in high school that sealed her decision to go into teaching. If it were not for this experience and her teachers, it could have turned out very differently.
“It was in high school and I had a friend whose sister was in special education and I would interact with her and as soon as I had my first field experience I knew this was the right field for me,” she said.
As a teacher, things were different for Tracy as compared to being a principal or as the Assistant Superintendent.
“The best way to explain it, is when you are a parent, your energies are focused on your child. When you step into a classroom, your energy is spread a little more,” she said. “When you go into the principal’s position, you look through a bigger lens and how it will affect the whole school and all of the students.”
In her years at Portage schools, the district has achieved much more than was ever expected. In the past seven years, the pride she feels for the Portage schools has grown immensely.
“The past seven years, the pride I feel for where we have come, it is like a pride that a mom and dad feel when their child accomplishes something,” she added. “You get that little taste of success, and you want to just keep pushing farther and farther.”
Working in the Portage community for such a long time, Tracy has seen the change not only in the schools but in the community as well.
“It is awesome, I can’t even explain it. This place has come so far,” she added. “This place is a diverse community and it is just amazing.”
Tracy, along with School Board President Glenda Owens, will be working with Leadership Northwest Indiana, a new program for youth in Lake and Porter County.
“We are trying to build a sense of community across Lake and Porter community and foster leadership skills in kids across these communities,” she added.
Because of her commitment to education and the students in the community, PTS Assistant Superintendent Mary Tracy is most definitely A Portage Life in the Spotlight.
“You cannot be an educator that is not constantly engaged,” she concluded.