Teachers Say Goodbye to Principal Clark

It was supposed to be a day to clear out her office of sixteen years of memories and mementos, as Mrs. Jeannine Clark prepared to say goodbye to Pelham Memorial High School. Lost in thought among her her boxes and photos, a knock on the door broke the reverie, as she was summoned out to the front of the building. In a year of COVID and shutdowns and scrambling to set up distance learning, one last “emergency” was the perfect way to end her nearly two decade tenure! But this crisis was one that was easily solved. The plight was this: how do those who respect you say goodbye to a mentor, a leader, a friend. The answer? An informal gathering in front of the place you would soon be leaving for the last time.

As she stepped out into the sunlight on June 18, Mrs. Clark was greeted by cars entering the circle at the front of the school, decorated with posters and balloons, sunroofs open to reveal cheering colleagues and their children waving, applauding, cheering and crying. Though this goodbye would be within the parameters of social-distancing, nothing could stop this show of gratitude for so many years of excellent work. Mrs. Clark was presented with flowers, posters, cards, and gifts. She even received a plaque from Sock ‘n’ Buskin (the drama club) thanking her for years supporting the arts, and naming her an honorary lifetime member of the club.

Soon it would be time for her to sit back, relax and enjoy retirement. But for now, it was back to her office, ready to make final plans for graduation 2020 at Purchase. A principal’s job, it seems, is never done.

A grateful Mrs. Clark was taken by surprise by the loving demonstration of her colleagues. (Neil Schleifer)
With Teachers Union president Mark Finegan just behind her, Mrs. Clark waves to well-wishers as they hand her goodbye balloons. (Neil Schleifer)