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June 12, 2013

St. Paul says farewell to school leaders

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

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St. Paul says farewell to school leaders
St. Paul Monsignor Patrick Halfpenny stands with the school’s retiring assistant principal, Evelyn McShane, and retiring principal, Mary Miller.

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — St. Paul Principal Mary Miller knew exactly what she would miss the most when she walked out the door as the school’s leader this year — tiny singing voices.

“They’re singing at Mass is what I’m going to miss most,” she said. “They are the most joyful, enthusiastic singers.”

Miller will still get to see the students at times, as she will remain a parishioner in the church, but it won’t be every day because Miller is retiring from her post. She’s not alone, either. Assistant Principal Evelyn McShane left for retirement on the same day.

During the fourth- to seventh-grade awards ceremony, both educators were recognized. During the recognitions, Monsignor Patrick Halfpenny, St. Paul’s pastor, also thanked Miller for her “outstanding, faith-filled leadership these last eight years.”

Both Miller and McShane have something special to look forward to with their newfound freedom from a daily job.

“We’re both looking forward to time with grandchildren,” Miller said.

Miller plans to split her time between her children in Florida and Michigan.

“I’m going to be a snowbird,” she said.

“It was a long time coming,” Miller said of her decision to retire after many years in education, eight of those at St. Paul. “I’ve been very blessed over the years, but (I’m) looking forward to the future.”

In a letter to the school, Miller said she started her career at St. Paul when the current graduating eighth-grade students were in first grade, and she said she feels she is “graduating with them, and moving on to a new phase in my life.”

Miller and McShane served a combined 85 years in Catholic schools.

Miller spent her entire career in Catholic schools, as both a teacher and administrator serving at a few different schools.

McShane has a similarly long career, which started as one of the founding teachers of St. Barnabas School in Eastpointe in 1961. Then, she started her career at St. Paul in 1978.

In her letter to the school, McShane said she came to St. Paul for a calling “to continue to feed the word of God to children here.”

In her letter, she speaks to enjoying her time in the school and said her memories are spiritual in nature.

“I will not say ‘good-bye,’ but ‘thank you’ for all your cooperation and loyalty over the years,” she wrote, adding that she will make her final resting place on that holy ground and will watch over the future generations of children at the church and school.

While both administrators are leaving, Miller isn’t concerned about the future of the school. She’s confident in those who will be stepping into their roles.

The new principal will be Kathleen White, who will be coming from her current role as principal at St. Thecla in Clinton Township.

“We’ve been meeting,” Miller said of the preparation for the next year.

The new assistant principal is St. Paul teacher Tina Forsythe.

“I’m very excited about Tina taking the assistant principal position,” Miller said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.