As principal at Seymour-Redding Elementary School, Dylan Purlee has helped make teaching and learning fun for students and staff.

He plans to do the same next school year at Needham Elementary in Franklin, where he has officially been named principal. He will begin his new job July 1.

“I will miss the students, teachers and families that I have gotten to know and build relationships over the past few years,” he said.

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A graduate of Franklin College, Purlee came to Redding in 2012 and took his job as an educator far beyond the classroom by reaching out to the local community to help support students.

He founded the Rock’n Ready school supply collection and distribution event with Jackson County United Way in 2013 to provide children from low-income families with free school supplies. Last year, the program served more than 750 students.

Sean Hildreth, resource development director for United Way, said he will miss Purlee’s contributions to the community and, more personally, his own son’s education.

“I can’t say enough about how much I respect and admire Dylan,” he said. “He has been incredibly supportive of the students, faculty and parents at Redding while also being actively involved in the community.”

Purlee also has supported Seymour Community School Corp. and the Jackson County Education Coalition’s efforts to expand preschool offerings and an increase in services for students with special needs.

“He has been engaged and has shared a great deal of knowledge and added a lot of value to our work,” said Natasha Langford, On My Way Pre-K manager. “His passion for early childhood, his heart to serve his community while inspiring others will be missed.”

Parent Jane Hays, whose daughter attended Redding, said she was sorry to hear about Purlee leaving because of his enthusiasm and willingness to help students in big and small ways.

“He went above and beyond for the students, every hour, every day,” Hays said.

She recalled that during Purlee’s first year as principal, he escorted students being dropped off by parents into the building one day when it was raining, shielding them with an umbrella.

“His suit was completely drenched,” Hays said. “He could’ve very easily sat in his warm, dry office and watched his students get soaked, but he didn’t.”

Before his time at Redding, Purlee worked for Clark-Pleasant Community Schools as an assistant principal, teacher and instructional coach. He continues to live in Franklin.

“Franklin Schools is excited about Dylan joining our team,” Franklin Community Schools Superintendent David Clendening said in a news release. “His educational leadership, sense of community and desire to continue to advance Needham Elementary made him the top candidate for this position.”

Purlee said he has learned many valuable lessons from his staff, students and parents in his four years at Redding, but one stands out the most.

“I have learned the importance of listening,” he said. “’Seek first to understand, then be understood’ is something I put into practice each day. Redding will always be a special place for me.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.