Sara McPeek Sampson ‘69, Teacher, Advisor, Volunteer

Sara Ann McPeek Sampson is a CODA – child of deaf adults. She was born on July 14, 1951, to Harry and Evelyn McPeek. The delivery doctor was Dr. Jack Miles, West Class of 1931 and a 1997 Hall of Fame Honoree. He was also West’s first Marching Band Drum Major. Sara lived on South Westmoor Avenue in the Westgate area of the Hilltop. She attended Westgate Elementary, West High School for seventh grade, Westmoor Junior High (8th and 9th), and finally West (10th – 12th). She was involved in many activities while a student at West: Varsity Cheerleader, Senior Choir, G.A.A. (Girls’ Athletic Association), F.T.A. (Future Teachers’ Association), Y-Teens, Christmas Dance Court, G.A.A. Class Teams’ Cheerleader, and Class Teams’ Miss Senior.  After graduating in June 1969, she attended Miami University. She did her student teaching at the American School of Madrid, Spain from September-December, 1972 and lived with a family from the school. She graduated in June 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She was unable to begin teaching until January 1974 due to an emergency gall bladder and appendectomy surgery in August.

Sara began her substitute teaching in Columbus City Schools, filling in for junior and senior high school teachers across the system, but mainly at West High School. During the four years she substituted, she began volunteering for a variety of activities at West, such as Class Teams’ Advisor and chaperoning school dances. In the fall of 1974, she helped organize the first all-class cheerleading reunion for the Homecoming game, in conjunction with the halftime performance of the West Alumni Band and Weskets, a tradition that still continues. In addition, she began helping Dianne Krebs (teacher) with graduation as well as learning the procedures for the graduation ceremony.

Sara started her permanent position of teaching health and physical education at West in September 1978. Along with her teaching duties, she was assigned to be the Wesket Advisor. In addition to performing halftime shows with the Marching Band, she led them to drill team competitions, performing eight-minute choreographed dance routine shows to recorded music. Sara, along with West’s Music Director, Brian Bonner’s wife Jan, designed their new competition uniforms – a Western Cowgirl style.  Highlights of the many awards and recognitions won by the Weskets include: the 1981 Buckeye Drill Team Association’s Class B-Recorded State Champions, the 1982 Columbus Public Schools’ City Champions, the 1983 All-American Class A-Recorded State Champions, and third place in the 1983 All-American Class A-Recorded National Championship. In addition, several Wesket Captains earned the honor of “Best Captain” at various competitions. The Weskets also won “Best Inspection” honors, with the major one being the 1984 State Best Inspection Award in the Class A-Recorded Division.  All of these awards and recognitions required endless hours of practice to finesse the routines. Plus, the Wesket Officers and Sara choreographed all of these routines. In addition, the music had to be selected and formatted into an eight-minute show. Thus, the Weskets transformed from only doing Friday night football halftime shows into a full year program. Besides competitions, the Weskets performed for halftime at home basketball games, various parades with the Marching Band, as well as providing entertainment at banquets, West class reunions, and community functions.

After the 1985 Homecoming game, Stephen Brown, the current band director, quit.  A substitute music teacher assumed his teaching duties, while Sara was asked to assume his marching band duties for the remainder of the season. She managed this along with her Wesket duties and teaching responsibilities. At the end of November, Mark Sampson started as the new Band Director and the Weskets and Marching Band members began their mischievous ways of getting the two together. Alas, “Miss McPeek” transitioned to “Mrs. Sampson” during the summer of 1987.  Reluctantly, Mrs. Sampson resigned her Wesket Advisor position in 1989, when she began working on her Master’s Degree and became pregnant with her first child.  She earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Wright State University in June 1990 while she was five months pregnant with her second child. Sara continued teaching and volunteering with student activities as well as supporting her husband with various band concerts and parades.

With the birth of their third son in 1992, Sara’s volunteer time became limited. She managed to continue her volunteer ushering position at home Ohio State football games, something she has done since 1976 (and still does, but a paid position now). She also immersed herself in finding developmental programs/therapies for Autistic children. Her middle son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three and information was very limited. Since there was no Internet, all information was gathered by parent/doctor/therapist referrals and many hours on the phone searching for experimental treatments/therapies for Jordan to try. Some of the therapies are now standard procedures and Jordan is part of the early data that substantiated the effectiveness of these.

Volunteering is part of Sara’s being. Not only did she continue volunteering for West activities, she began volunteering for her children’s activities at school and various sport programs from elementary through high school. For middle and high school soccer teams, she helped with the team meals at school before away games. When her son, Jeremy, played soccer at Capital University, she co-chaired a parents’ group that organized the tailgating after games, the snacks and drinks for the bus ride home after away games, as well as the celebratory end of season banquets. At the same time, she became involved with the Hilliard Special Olympics and joined with parents supporting their athletes in sports and social activities.

Sara started her participation with the West High Alumni Association in 2005, by helping Susie Griffith Conrad (Class of 1964) with the Hall of Fame program. She continued helping with the program in various aspects until 2011 when Baileen Gary Dodd Koffel (Class of 1948) asked her to be the Chairperson, a position she has held since that time. Helping with West’s graduation ceremony has been another long-term volunteer activity. Since 1975, she has helped a variety of teachers with this, with her main area of focus being the spacing of graduates in the processional as well as in the recessional. As the teachers in charge retired or left, Sara eventually became the director of the entire ceremony in 2006. Even though she retired in 2006, she continued in this position through 2013. However, she was unable to continue in 2014 due to right and left hip replacement surgeries, but was able to help as a verbal consultant.

Sara has been married 35 years to a very supportive and loving husband, Mark Sampson, and they have three amazing sons: Jeremy (Boulder, Colorado), Jordan, and Jason. Through their individuality, they helped her become a better teacher. Her sister, Cathy McPeek (Class of 1974), lives in Palm Springs, California.

Dan Martin, Class of 1972, nominated Sara.