Just after the school bell rang last Friday morning, Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary Principal Dave Maloney headed straight for his school’s media center to do live morning announcements.
Meanwhile, Principal Ev Michell over at Kyrene Centennial Middle School walked through her campus, greeting every student she saw by name.
Both principals, who serve a visible role as they lead their respective schools, will be retiring this semester.
Starting out as teachers around the same time, some 25 years ago, Maloney and Michell have each taught at eight different schools within the Kyrene School District.
“The people are great and the kids are great,” said Maloney as he walked down the halls.
After almost retiring once before — returning to the district six years ago — Maloney is now certain he is leaving this time for good. With plans to join his wife at their new home in Sonoita, Ariz., he said he’s excited about spending time working on his motorcycle, which he rides to school most days of the week.
Since his start at the district in 1989 along with Michell when Kyrene Monte Vista was opened, Maloney has served as a teacher and administrator for both elementary and middle schools. Maloney also received the Lifetime Achievement Award during his first year as principal at Kyrene last month from the Tempe Diablos’ Excellence in Education Awards.
“I hope that I can leave behind teamwork, friendship, and the atmosphere of people wanting to be at work every day,” said Maloney. “I think (as a principal) that’s what you bring the most.”
This year under Maloney’s leadership, Sierra was named the first “No Place for Hate” school in the state and started a tree mural in a hallway near the library recognizing student acts of kindness.
For Michell, the principal of four years said she hopes the community will see Centennial in a new light.
“We sometimes get a bad rap, but it’s a great school with great teachers,” said Michell, of the school’s diversity and some preconceived notions. “I wanted to be a principal that could make an impact on kids, and make it a great and safe place for kids to be.”
Centennial has been one of the only schools in Kyrene to maintain its after-school STEM programs for students. Middle school students have also participated in web chats with NASA astronauts and host an annual space night.
As Maloney stood in his office Friday, looking over shelves stocked with autographed photos of celebrities near a wall decked out with New York Yankees memorabilia, he said he’s going to miss the social aspect of school the most.
“You make these friends in Kyrene, it’s people you’ve been real close to, you work with and go through life with,” he said.
Michell, who teared up talking about her supportive staff of teachers and other employees, said she plans on volunteering at the school before she leaves for New Mexico in December.
“We’ve been around a long time, basically started together, and now we’re leaving together,” she said. “It’s hard to think about leaving.”
Kyrene Centennial is located at 13808 S. 36th St. Kyrene de la Sierra is located at 1122 E. Liberty Lane.
For more information about the schools, visit kyrene.org.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.