On Thursday, Patch asked Nancy Macione several questions about her recent announcement that she would be retiring as principal from Oswegatchie Elementary School at the end of the school year.
There were questions about what went into the decision, her two children, what she will hope to do with her time off and how the rest of the year will go. But what got her emotional was just asking her what she’s going to miss the most.
“The kids,” she said, and began to get emotional. “I can’t even talk about that right now, I’ll miss the kids… That’s probably why I got involved in the helping business in the first place. And with all the terrible news out there today, I think we appreciate them more than ever.”
What will you miss most about them?
“They are precious, they’re little cute faces, and how they get so excited when they learn something new,” said Macione, who had to pause several times to hold back her emotions. “I think that’s what keeps you going in this job, is the kids.”
Macione isn’t the only one emotional about her retirement. Several parents wrote in on Waterford Patch and on Waterford Patch’s Facebook page saying they will miss the long-time principal and said their children will miss her as well.
“You know you have a very special principal indeed when your daughter comes home and tells you she is very sad and, with tears in her eyes, hands you the principal's retirement announcement notice,” Oswegatchie parent Armi Rowe wrote in on Waterford Patch. “We will all miss you, Mrs. Macione!”
Since 1959, Macione has followed the “rhythm” of school, first as a student, then as a speech pathologist and as the last 12 years as the principal of Oswegatchie Elementary School. Every year for the past 53 she has followed that school calendar, and it will be strange without it, she said.
“That will be strange, for sure,” said Macione, who said she is planning on spending more time with her family and traveling in her retirement.
Macione has worked in public education for 35 years and worked in Waterford for the past 20, the first eight as a speech pathologist at Cohanzie Elementary School. During that time she did the necessary training and schooling to become a principal, but when she was hired in 2001 as the leader of Oswegatchie, she was surprised.
“It's strange but I never envisioned myself as a school principal,” Macione said. “I felt lucky to be given the opportunity… I never would have envisioned this path, that I would enjoy over a decade as a principal here.”
Macione said she believes strongly in the staff at Oswegatchie and said she is leaving the school “in a good place.” She told her staff recently in an emotional meeting her plans to retire.
“I am so blessed," Macione said. "We have a great place here."
Superintendent Jerome Belair said the district will “sorely miss” Macione. He described her as the “consummate professional” and said there will be “very big shoes to fill at Oswegatchie Elementary School.”
“She’s been a terrific asset for Waterford Public Schools,” Belair said. “Kids are always first in her mind and heart.”
Belair said the district is beginning the search for a new principal. He said he will create a search team that will include members of the Board of Education, parents, teachers and administrators.
First, the position will be posted internally, and then will be posted externally, he said. Belair said the hope is to have someone by the end of May.
“Hiring is one of the most important things we do,” Belair said. “We are not going to settle. If we feel at the end of the (search) process that we haven’t found the exact right person, we will go out again.”
Macione is one of several Waterford principals to retire recently, and many of the other principals have been there for some time. Belair recently oversaw the hiring of Clark Lane Middle School Principal Jim Sachs and is now searching for a new principal for Waterford High School and a new school business manager.
Belair said he knew that there was a good chance he would have to hire several new principals when he took over as superintendent in 2011. When he took over, the town’s five principals had all been there since at least 2005.
Since he took over, Clark Lane Middle School Principal Mike Lovetere retired and Waterford High School Principal Don Macrino announced he was retiring at the end of this school year. Meanwhile, Great Neck Principal Pat Fedor and Quaker Hill Principal Glenda Dexter have all been Waterford principals for more than a decade.