Full steam ahead


By Sue Hughes | For The Times-Post

PENDLETON — John Lord, 67, retired as principal of Maple Ridge Elementary School in 2019, but his life didn’t slow down.

In fact, he may be busier now than when he was working.

One indicator of that: he gets up routinely at 4:40 a.m. and takes a walk before the day’s activities begin.

Lord, who is originally from Columbus, Indiana, graduated from Indiana State University in 1978.

“I was hoping to get a job teaching in Columbus,” he said.

But that June he got an offer to teach in Madison County, at a tiny school he had never heard of.

In August he began teaching fourth grade at Fall Creek Elementary School.

“Terry Auker was the principal, it was a great place to start,” he said. “There were only 6 classrooms, one for each grade,” he added.

After one year there, he moved to the newly opened East Elementary School.

Lord spent seven years there, teaching third, fifth and sixth grades.

He then began 16 years as the assistant principal at Pendleton Heights Middle School.

When Maple Ridge Elementary School opened he was chosen to be the principal.

“To have the freedom to open a school was wonderful,” he said. “I got to do the hiring of all the teachers.”

After 46 years at South Madison Community School Corp, Lord retired

Now Lord spends his time volunteering and playing golf.

He was elected to the South Madison Community School Corp. Board of School Trustees and is planning to run for reelection this year.

He is also president of the Pendleton Kiwanis Club and the Maple Ridge PTO.

“The principal at Maple Ridge called and said you know how you said the PTO needs a president, well here’s your chance!” Lord recounted.

“Now when I walk down the halls at the school, I might see the grandkids of kids that I taught,” he said with a laugh.

Lord is the board president of Outfitters Inc., the local non-profit organization that provides clothing for children in need, and he is secretary of the Foster Branch Ridge Homeowners Association.

He volunteers at the Madison County Literacy League as an adult reading tutor.

“I knew that I could teach adults to read,” he said.

Lord is a volunteer with East Central Indiana Court Appointed Special Advocate. In that role, he helps ensure each child he works with find a safe and secure home, accompanying them to court when necessary in the process.

He is a Reading Buddy for children at Pendleton and Maple Ridge elementary schools.

That means he goes to the schools once a week and helps students improve their reading skills.

When he is not doing volunteer work, Lord hits the golf course. He usually plays with two other retired South Madison principals, Bill Hutton and Dan Joyce.

They are planning a golfing trip to North Carolina this spring.

Lord’s wife, Sue, was a teacher at the middle school until she retired.

He has two children. Bryan, 33, is a radio personality in Raleigh North Carolina, where he has a program with another Pendleton native, Kyle Smeltzer. Berkeley, 20, is studying finance at Butler University.

“I didn’t plan to teach in Pendleton, but it has been wonderful,” Lord said. “Pendleton has been very good to me.”