This is the first of seven profiles of the 2020 honorees of the Outstanding Women of Clinton County Class of 2020. More information on the event, including how to obtain tickets, will appear at the end of each profile.
When Connie Hardie arrived in Clinton County in the mid-1960s, she learned that the community had no library-based programs to promote childhood reading. A transplant from New York state and newly appointed elementary teacher in the Wilmington school system, Hardie was fulfilling a lifelong passion for children’s literacy.
She found a willing partner in the Wilmington Public Library, which inaugurated child-focused learning programs with her help. A schedule of reading times for children in a public library had not been done before in Clinton County. Her efforts were greeted enthusiastically and have grown significantly since then.
In a lifetime of service to her community, Hardie would complete a distinguished 30-year teaching career while undertaking significant volunteer work to expand childhood and adult literacy in the county, including service as a tutor in the summer reading program of Harvest of Gold, a church-based education initiative.
She would also win two terms on Wilmington City Council, and serve as a member of the Democratic Central Committee in the county.
Hardie understood that her love of reading and her desire to educate students in their formative years was extremely important to their mental development. Her passion is unabated since moving to Cape May a few years ago.
Presently, she reads to folks living in long-term care, some of whom are often unable to read by themselves.
While teaching in Wilmington schools, she served as a grade level chairwoman and on numerous curriculum committees tasked with selecting textbooks and introducing innovative teaching styles. She also served as a member and the secretary of the Wilmington Education Association. She retired from teaching in 1998 as a first-grade teacher.
In 1986, through the Danforth Foundation and the Ohio Education Association, she represented Clinton County as an outstanding teacher at the Ohio Teacher’s Forum.
Over the past 20 years, she has served on the “Dems for Kids” Committee, which purchases, organizes and delivers much needed school supplies to all the elementary schools in Clinton County twice a year. These school supplies are necessary for students whose parents cannot afford the required supplies. These supplies also help teachers, who would have to pay for supplies out of their own pockets.
As a charter member of the Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice Cooking Club she has participated in awarding more than $20,000 in college scholarships since the year 2000.
In 2001, she became a Master Gardener, involved with various gardening projects in the city and county, including at the fairgrounds, Cape May, the library and with community gardens spearheaded by Wilmington College.
She has also been a past president and member of the Wednesday Book Club, Conversation Club and Wilmington Garden Club, and a member of Wilmington Library Daytime Book Club and Ohio Retired Teachers Association.
Hardie is most proud of her family and her son Bill, who was born and attended school in Clinton County. He is presently a pediatric pulmonary physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who is married to a pediatrician.
Her late husband Cliff served as chairman and professor of English at Wilmington College, and she assisted him with the editing and publication of his seven books on poetry.
Tickets for the 2020 Outstanding Women of Clinton County luncheon are $25 (cash or check accepted, payable to “OWCC”). Reservations can be made at the Wilmington News Journal, 1547 Rombach Ave., Wilmington, OH 45177. The News Journal’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If you have any questions, please call 937-382-2574. Reservations will be accepted through Monday, March 2.
The event is sponsored by the Wilmington News Journal, with generous support from First State Bank, Peoples Bank, Wilmington Savings Bank, and Wilmington College.