Heywood’s Sadler receives Community Service Award

For the Miami Valley Today

TROY — Maurice Sadler typically dresses for success.

With his trademark bow ties and well-put-together outfits, the Heywood Elementary School principal is typically a paradigm of sartorial resplendence.

On one of the biggest days of his life, however, Sadler was caught off-guard, out of his usual attire and, most of all, incredibly humbled.

“On a scale of 1-10, 11 or 12,” Sadler said when asked how surprised he was on Jan. 17 when it was announced he was the recipient of the prestigious Pastor Wesley McCoy, Sr. Community Service Award. “It was totally out of the blue. My wife told me, ‘Anybody who knows you could tell by the clothes you were wearing that you weren’t prepared for what was about to happen.’ Boots and jeans … I was just there for the weather and marching. I was there for my normal participation and to be part of the community.”

Sadler received the award as a part of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Day in Troy. The award is named in honor of the late Pastor Wesley McCoy, Sr, who passed away in 2018 after a lifetime spent in religious and community service.

While his family knew in advance, the award came as a complete surprise to Sadler.

“Goofy me, they start reading off information about the person and the first thing I’m thinking is, ‘Who else is from Charlotte?’ I’ve got to meet someone else from Charlotte. I’ve got to meet someone from my old stomping grounds who won this award,’” Sadler said. “The coolest thing for me is I guess the selection committee had reached out to my wife and also both my children, one of which is in Paris, and had them write like narratives as to why they thought I’d be a good person for the award. I was like, ‘Forget this plaque. You could give me my children’s letters about me and that’s the coolest thing, reading what my kids had to say about me.”

The honor likely didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with Sadler’s dedication to community service.

The United Way of Miami County, Heywood PTO, Troy Main Street, MLK initiative, Richard’s Chapel, Juneteenth Celebration committee, Festival of Nations, Lincoln Community Center, youth sports, and Clubhouse Program at Ginghamsburg Church are just some of the programs to which Sadler has donated his time over the years.

Sadler said he feels it’s important for him, as an educator, to be involved in the lives of his students and their families both in and out of school.

“Me personally, I just think it’s essential,” he said. “It may not be for everybody. I don’t know if you have to be super-involved in your community to do great at this job, but I think it makes it easier for me. I’m able to establish lots of community relationships, and I’m able to find avenues to help my families who may or may not need it because I’m connected with these other things.”

Sadler said that while his name may be on the plaque, the honor is very much a family award, as his wife, Janine; son Elijah; and daughter, Macie, have also been very involved in the same organizations and events he has over the years.

“Now that my kids are older, they actually volunteer in community service,” he said. “Now a lot of these things we do together, and my wife’s always ahead or right by my side doing all of these things. Some of these things she’s leading me to and some of these things I’m leading her to. But we’re always together doing them. Social activism and being involved in the community is a family thing for us. It’s worked; it’s been great. It’s a family award. This isn’t just a Maurice Sadler award, this is a Sadler award. I couldn’t do it without my family.”

This is Sadler’s 18th year in Troy after moving here to take the job as Heywood principal. He said he’s seen Troy grow in diversity and acceptance over the course of the past two decades.

“There’s lots of things that I see that are happening,” Sadler said. “I think it’s important to have people understand our diversity and the importance of our differences. It’s not enough to just say, ‘It’s ok that you come hang out with me, as long as you eat and speak and think the exact same things and the exact same way that I do.’ What’s more important is to say, ‘I want you to come hang out with me, but also bring your differences with you so that I can learn from you.’ We don’t want to be one big, complete melting pot where we all get boiled down into one broth, but to be this eclectic buffet where everybody’s differences are celebrated.

“There are lots of just little initiatives. I’ve noticed that our libraries have slowly become more diverse in that the books kids are able to check out. Events like the Juneteenth event that took place last summer and will be coming up again is not something that I knew I would have expected to see when I first moved to Troy. We’ve got a Black History Walk coming up downtown, sponsored by Troy Main Street. Those things I didn’t see when I first moved to Troy. We’re just trying to see those gaps and bridge those gaps. I see a lot more people of color sitting on boards and being in leadership positions. I definitely see a change.”