Weszely set to take over at RCA
If anyone knows the importance of having a school in Graysville, it is Tanna Jo Weszely.
Tanna Jo’s father Bill Cox was a 1950 graduate of then Graysville High School.
Her mom Ann worked at the school for 30 years and Tanna Jo and her three brothers and her kids Brooks and Brekiesha all attended Graysville Elementary School.
They all watched in disbelief when Graysville Elementary was closed some 15 years ago.
“I was one of the ones that stood up at the meeting asking the board not to close our school,” said Tanna Jo, who is ready to begin her first year as COO and school leader of Rural Community Academy, a K-8 charter school in Graysvile. “We were devastated. A lot of hearts were hurt.
“Graysville was a four-star school. Our kids were academically successful. I was fortunate to be raised in this community and raise my kids in Graysville.”
Tanna Jo said she and a group of parents and school leaders realized they would have to brainstorm and get to work immediately, if they wanted to have a school in their community.
“We knew it would not be an easy journey ahead,” she said. “We knew it was going to be a battle.”
The school at Graysville was closed for the 2002-03, but opened up the following school year as Rural Community Academy, a K-8 charter school through Ball State University.
“It had come full circle for me,” said Weszely. “I must have painted every door jam in the school. I painted rooms and everything else.
“I have been a cheer coach here and helped teach dance and music. But there was so much to do, like getting the building back first and then finding out how to go about opening a school. It was worth all the effort and now Rural Community Academy is ready to start its 15th year.”
Weszely, who was COO and school leader in training under Susie Pierce last year, is once again making sure the school at Graysville is ready for the upcoming school year.
“I will be changing into my paint clothes after we get done talking,” said Weszely. “I am not too proud to paint or even clean toilets. I am pretty good at it.
“As crazy at it sounds, I have come full circle again. I was a cheerleader here. I also played on the boys baseball team. I am proud and blessed to be working with such great people. I am very grateful.”
Two years ago, Weszely helped teach two physical education classes before Pierce asked her to become her replacement in training. She has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State in physical education
To do this, Weszely had to give up her business of 26 years — Club 10 Gymnastics.
“We laughed about it at first, I did not think about it too seriously,” said Weszely. “But with both my kids graduating from college, I thought maybe this was not happening by accident.
“I never question God’s timing, ever. After the interview and I got the job, I started training with Susie. It was exciting, but there was a lot to learn. It was hard for me.
“It has been such a journey. I never saw my new role, but God has bigger plans than I had for myself.”
Leaving Club 10
Tanna Jo started Club 10 in 1989 and did not see herself ever moving on from it.
“It was hard. Twenty-six years is a long time,” she said. “Closing the doors down at 812 S. Main St. (in Sullivan) was difficult.
“I knew I could not do both so I had a choice to make. I was proud of the thousands of lives I touched at our Club 10 family, but feel like I can continue to guide and help young people at RCA. I love working with kids. It is my passion. I am just doing it in a different place now.”
Tanna Jo said gymnastics flowed through her veins from the days she was tumbling from one end to the other of the gym at Graysville.
“I was very active and athletic,” she said. “Tumbling came very easy for me and it was something I loved to do.
“I was hoping it would become a part of my life. That’s why I majored in physical education and had a minor in dance at Indiana State.”
She said she was a sophomore at Indiana State, “I believe it was 1983, when I was asked to coach the gymnastics team at Sullivan High School.
“I jumped at the chance to be around gymnastics and help make some extra money to pay for college,” she said.
Being the smallest high school in Indiana to offer gymnastics never deterred Weszely, it just motivated her.
“It didn’t matter how big you were. It just mattered how much hard work and dedication you were willing to put into something,” said Weszely, a member of the Southwest High School Athletics Hall of Fame, along with former gymnasts Kassy Kennedy and Darla Kennedy “We were the smallest gymnastics team in the state, but we couldn’t worry about that.”
Early on, Kela Kellams became the first gymnast from SHS to qualify for state. “Kela went twice, in two different events,” said Weszely.
She added that former SHS principal Ed Chickadaunce was a great supporter of gymnastics.
“He supported our passion for gymnastics,” said Tanna Jo, who was cheer coach at both Sullivan High School and at Graysville. “There were no other schools in the WIC that had gymnastics.
“But he let us continue until the final group of seniors finished in 2004. Without him, a lot of those girls would not have had the memories they have. We advanced out of sectional in 2004 and Ashley Pierce and Kassy both advanced to state as individuals. I will never forget the support he gave to me and the program.”
Katrina Glascock advanced to the regional with Pierce in 2002.
In 2003, Kennedy went to the state finals as an all-around gymnast.
In 2004 at Columbus East, Sullivan was among the best at the sectional, earning a spot at the regional.
Kennedy and Pierce both went to state in the all-around competition at Perry Meridian High School, south of Indianapolis, in 2004.
“A lot of those girls started competing at Club 10 before they started elementary school,” said Tanna Jo, a member of the choir and marching band at Indiana State. “It was great to see all of their hard work pay off.
“If the high school program had to end, it was great to go out the way we did. We were right up there with some of the best gymnasts and gymnastics programs in the state.”
During her years at Club 10, she had gymnastics teams that competed all across the Midwest. In later years, she had teams that got involved in clogging and competitive cheer. Her last five cheerleading teams won national championships.
“Tanna is the most dedicated, loyal, loving and hard working person I’ve ever met,” said Darla Kennedy, who served as Weszely’s assistant coach at SHS for 13 years and 14 years at Club 10. “I loved coaching by her side. No matter what is happening in her life, she always put a smile on her face and took care of hundreds of kids.
“She loved all the kids she worked with at Club 10 and at SHS. She has always had such great self confidence and believed in her dreams. Sullivan County was lucky to have Tanna Jo open up Club 10. RCA is now lucky to have her there working with their students.”
Weszely said she was fortunate to have a mentor like Pierce at RCA.
“I have some very big shoes to fill,” said Weszely. “She was a big part in keeping a school here and has been a great leader here.
“Kudos to Susie. She was the glue here for a very long time. She is leaving me some very big shoes to fill.”
When Tanna Jo was running Club 10, she was in charge of everything, much like she will be at RCA.
“I am now in charge of transportation, the kitchen, the daily operation of the school, including the toilets,” she said. “It was the same for me at Club 10. If we had problems, I was the one that had to get them solved.
“This has not been stressful yet, but it is a new journey, which makes it exciting. This building is suited to accommodate 180 students. As of a week ago, we had 172. It is a great problem to have, but we are trying to get creative about using our space.”
Tanna Jo said she has a great staff in place and wishes they could pay them more.
“Everybody works so hard,” said Weszely, whose parents Ann and Bill Cox have a shelterhouse on the school grounds named after them for their community service.
“I love hugs, but also a firm handshake. I like making changes in kids’ lives. This is their academic foundation. I hope to help them have success. I am glad to have the chance to be a part of that.
“Through it all, I never lost site of where I started.