NEWBURYPORT — When Newburyport High School Principal Mike Parent reviews his background of more than four decades in education, his recollection focuses on a career that has included many facets of activity.
"I have been a history teacher, varsity coach, department head, assistant principal and finally principal," said Parent, who recently announced his retirement.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my 11 years in Newburyport, a time in which I worked collaboratively with four superintendents."
Parent, 65, will retire at the end of the school year.
Parent is a graduate of Chicopee High School and Westfield State College. He is the son of a die-maker and a full-time homemaker.
He said when he finished college in 1974, there were few teaching jobs.
Parent was able to get substituting jobs, and he also worked at night for United Parcel Service.
The aspiring educator looked for work in New Hampshire and was a teacher for four years at Fall Mountain Regional High School.
Parent was hired at Keene High School in New Hampshire in 1985 and he stayed there for nearly 20 years.
During this period he earned a master's degree in education administration, and after a short stint in Littlefield, New Hampshire, as an administrator, he was hired at Newburyport in about 2007.
"I met my wife in Newburyport, and it was a great community. I was still working in New Hampshire and each morning I would drive by the high school on my way out of town," he said.
"When the principal's job came open, I applied. I told interviewers I wasn't here to build a resume; I wanted to end my career here," he continued. "And that's what happened."
One of Parent's favorite avocations during his education career has been coaching track and cross-country.
He was a swift runner in college, having recorded an impressive 49.2 in the 400-meters.
Coaching enabled him to continue this interest.
"I liked coaching and I felt every athlete was important, not just the top runner on the team, but also the student who might be No. 30," he said.
The principal expressed satisfaction that in recent years the school system's track has been improved, and the all-sports field and improved stadium have been created behind the high school.
He added that other initiatives of which he is proud include gains in student instruction time; the hiring and retention of excellent staff; the flex-time program that permits students to study after regular school hours if necessary; and the acquisition of enhancements to the high school auditorium.
When asked whether students have changed over the years, he said, "We know a lot more about young people and we are more attentive to their social and emotional needs than decades ago.
"We have adjustment counselors for teens, and all teachers and administrators are conscious of the value of every single student."
Susan Viccaro, superintendent of schools, praised his tenure.
"Mike has moved the high school forward to an incredible degree over the last 11 years," she said. "He has supervised the addition of many teachers, including adding back a Business Department."
She said he also has created an advisor/advisee program, and he has created a schedule that allows for internships, work study and expanding the evening FLEX programming.
Viccaro, who herself is retiring at the end of the school year, added, "Mike has had an extraordinary career in education, is the consummate educational professional and is a great collaborator. I feel very lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Mike."
Mayor Donna Holaday, who is chair of the School Committee, said Parent has been a major asset.
"Mike Parent has dedicated his career to public education and Newburyport was fortunate when he accepted the position as principal of the high school.
"He shepherded the school through a very difficult time with deep cuts in school funding and loss of teachers, staff, programs and electives.
"Through his patience, leadership and creativity the high school has restored teachers, advanced new programs and initiatives and today is ranked 32nd in the state in Boston magazine’s annual report of the 50 best high schools.
"I am very grateful to the work Mike has accomplished and I wish him the very best in his retirement."
Parent said he plans to take some time off before deciding what he will do during retirement.
Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport. He can be reached at 978 - 961 - 3149, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.