ToquiNotes: Why You Likely Haven't Seen the End of BHS Principal Mark DeFazio on Education Front

By Jeff Toquinto on May 12, 2018 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

For the few of you who may be out there who were hopeful that come June 30 it would be the last you would see of Bridgeport High School Mark DeFazio in the halls of the school then you may not want to read this.
 
For the large majority who were saddened about his impending departure due to his announced retirement, you probably will want to read this.
 
As of Wednesday, it became official. You will once again see DeFazio in the halls of Bridgeport High School during the 2018-19 school year.
 
No, he didn’t rescind his resignation. And, no he’s not taking on a full-time or volunteer teaching gig.
 
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Harrison County Board of Education, DeFazio was part of two pieces of action that took place under the personnel portion of the meeting. First, his resignation was officially accepted. Second, he was officially approved as a substitute teacher for next year.
 
After roughly 40 years, it’s not that easy to just walk away. DeFazio isn’t.
 
“My plan is to substitute just at Bridgeport High School and maybe in an emergency if they would really need an administrator substitute, but only if it’s not for an extended period of time,” DeFazio said. “I still want to stay involved and be around the environment because I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy it. So I guess you can say that I’m not out of the profession 100 percent; at least not yet.”
 
The news was welcome news for Harrison County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Manchin. Manchin, who said he’s aware his time for a decision on when to step out of the education arena is not too far away, said it’s difficult to quit cold turkey for many.
 
“Him wanting to substitute is a big deal. Mark has been in the profession for decades and I can assure you that it’s not an easy decision he made this year,” said Manchin on the BHS principal’s retirement. “Any of us in our 60s or at the age of where you contemplate retirement, if you care and I believe most do, this isn’t easy to walk away from.”
 
Manchin said he’s talked in detail with DeFazio about his retirement – both before and after he decided to call it an administrative career. He said he knows DeFazio didn’t come to it lightly because he cares about what he does and who he deals with on a daily basis.
 
“We’ve spoken more than once and I know he struggled with it, which is why I think he wants to stay involved,” said Manchin. “When your whole life is dedicated to education, it’s hard to wash your hands of it. You go into a lot of schools today, not just in Harrison County, and you’ll see many substitute teachers that are retired teachers because they’ve been so invested in the lives of others.
 
“If you think that’s easy to turn off, you’re kidding yourself,” Manchin continued. “I know people like Mark ask themselves over and over if it’s the right thing to do and when they do make the decision they often come back to substitute. That’s a good thing.”
 
DeFazio doesn’t have to go too far to know if stepping back into the classroom to teach – something he hasn’t done in decades – is a good choice. All he has to do is ask his wife Alice, another long-time educator who retired in recent years and does occasional substituting. Not surprisingly, she does most if it at the school she retired from, which is Johnson Elementary.
 
“My wife subs once in a while and she’s doing it maybe 30 days a year,” said DeFazio. “I think I can see myself doing about the same.”
 
Part of the return is the love of the school and being able to impact the lives of youth. Part of it, DeFazio readily admitted, is that there is a need.
 
“I can tell you first hand it’s hard to get substitute teachers at times. Hopefully, I can help out,” said DeFazio. “I don’t know what kind of teacher I’ll make, but I do feel pretty confident I can follow the plans for a substitute. I know it will be different, but I think it will be a good different.”
 
One thing DeFazio said he absolutely won’t be doing in a substitute role is trying to be an administrator at the school. Those days, he said barring a long-term absence by an administrator, are over.
 
“The last thing I want to do is be obtrusive,” he said. “I’ll be perfectly happy in the classroom.”
 
Let me be the first to say in a different way. Welcome back.
 
Editor's Note: Top and bottom photos show BHS Principal Mark DeFazio, while Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin is shown in the middle. First two photos by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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