ToquiNotes: Will Year 40 in Education Arena be in Cards for BHS Principal DeFazio? Here's the Answer

By Jeff Toquinto on July 15, 2017 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It wasn’t too long ago this summer that Mark DeFazio was sitting talking to his mother. At the time, the long-time Bridgeport High School Principal had yet to make up his mind on whether he was returning to school for another year or to retire.
 
Mom, he said, helped make up his mind for him.
 
“My mother told me last week that I was working another year,” said DeFazio with a laugh earlier this week. “I think she knows I love my job and I know she knows I don’t really have any hobbies so even though I was already leaning in the direction of coming back that finalized everything for me. I don’t think I’ve quite worn out my welcome and I do know there’s a time when to say when, but I’m not there yet.”
 
What that means is the DeFazio will return for year number 40 in the education system. He’s taught, he’s coached, he’s served as an assistant principal and for many years now he’s been the head man at Bridgeport High School.
 
For those that don’t think DeFazio wasn’t seriously thinking about stepping down, consider this. At the end of the school year, he told his staff that before anyone else knew if he was retiring he would let them know via email or text if he was stepping down.
 
Once July came around and no messages were received, those that knew DeFazio best probably knew he wasn’t going anywhere. I kind of knew it too.
 
Not because I’m clairvoyant, but simply because I know DeFazio has too much respect for the position he holds. And leaving after July and causing the Harrison County Board of Education the need to quickly post his position and fill it would cause whoever would have taken over not nearly enough time to get acclimated. In the even it would have been one of the assistants at the school, then that would require time to fill that position.
 
“It’s just been something that’s played on my mind all summer since school was out,” said DeFazio. “What’s odd about it is that I’m not usually one that needs a lot of time to make a decision, but this was one I struggled with.”
 
The struggle had nothing to do with DeFazio’s ability to do the job. It had nothing to do with him no longer liking what he did. Rather, just as he stated above, DeFazio has been thinking that maybe it’s time for someone else.
 
“In my heart, I knew I didn’t want to retire because I love what I do and I’ve done it for 39 years now,” DeFazio said. “As you get older, though, you have to be sure you have the ability to put forth the effort the job needs.
 
“As the summer went on, doubt about retiring grew and grew so with my mother’s urging, I knew it was best to stay,” he continued. “This is what makes me happy. I know a lot of people can’t understand why I wouldn’t retire when I can, but this is where I still want to be.”
 
So is this DeFazio’s last year?
 
Perhaps, but not necessarily. He’ll give it the same approach he’s given the last several years when retirement was an option. If he feels good, feels positive about being there for the kids and the community, and believes he’s still capable, the DeFazio era may have another year or years to it.
 
Quite frankly, for those who think he needs a definitive date of when he’s stepping down, I believe you’re misguided. Mark DeFazio’s 40 years, his dedication to this school and community, and his straight forward approach to leading one of the state’s most successful schools has earned him the right to be able to call it quits whenever he sees fit.
 
“All I know for sure about the future is that the first day of school this year with the staff I’ll tell them I’m very lucky because I’m at Bridgeport High School and I hope they feel the same way,” said DeFazio. “We’ve got a good thing going at Bridgeport and that’s tough to walk away because I still love working with kids and being involved in all the activities. I love this community and working with a great staff that for the most part is very loyal and hard working.
 
“For now, I’m not going anywhere,” he continued. “Everyone’s going to have to put up with me for another year.”
 
That’s fine by me. I’m betting it is fine by just about everyone else too.
 
Editor's Note: Top and bottom photo shows Mark DeFazio at this year's Bridgeport High School graduation ceremony, while he's show with Assistant Principal Matt DeMotto at the Friends of Indians Football Golf Tournament in the middle photo. Pictures by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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