Something might be in the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s water. On the heels of news that Principal Kevin Uhde will leave Johnson Elementary School later this year, Mary Wilcynski announced that she will retire from leading Kennedy High School in June.
“I think I have about a 17 year attention span,” the principal said Tuesday. “I absolutely love this job. I absolutely love it. I wanted to leave still loving it … I think it’s better to leave before you’re ready instead of after you should have.”
Wilcynski notified district administrators of her decision at the end of last week. She told Kennedy staff on Feb. 11 and made students aware during morning announcements Tuesday.
“[She] is an outstanding educator. She’ll be missed,” O’Malley said. “We’ll do Kennedy right by the thoughtful, deliberate process we take to identify it’s next instructional leader.”
Wilcynski’s retirement is not final until the school board approves it. According to Marcia Hughes, community relations supervisor for the district, Wilcynski’s retirement is expected to be on the agenda for the Monday, Feb. 25 board meeting. Once approved, administrators can begin determining the details of finding Wilcynski’s replacement.
“I will be very much on board and the principal through the end of June,” she said.
Gary O’Malley, deputy superintendent, will be directing the search for Kennedy’s next head principal. He plans to model it on the process used to hire middle school principals last summer. O’Malley hopes to post a potentially revised job description for the position before spring break, which begins Monday, March 18.
“This is an outstanding high school in an outstanding district and I know we’ll have many serious candidates who are interested in the position,” O’Malley said. “We will make a great effort to match for Kennedy those qualities that we expect in its next educational leader.”
The process will involve public forums as well as meetings with Kennedy faculty. O’Malley predicted that ideally he and Superintendent Dave Benson will make a final selection on the new principal by early June.
Wilcynski is in her 16th year as Kennedy’s head administrator. Prior to that, she spent 17 years at Metro High School. She was also at Washington High School for a year and began her tenure in the district in 1975, working for three years as a counselor at Arthur Elementary School.
Post-retirement Wilcynski is planning to stay in the education field, perhaps doing work at local colleges involving teacher training, but she said this is the end of her time both in the district and as an administrator.
“I think there will be some opportunities that will come around and I’ll just kind of see what they are,” she said.