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McCarthy leaves district meeting with gifts

District business and operations director Dan Poolman and Board Chairman Rich Parker present District Superintendent Fred McCarthy with a series of awards and gifts. McCarthy received a certificate of achievement, a golden apple and a tie-wearing teddy bear.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
District business and operations director Dan Poolman and Board Chairman Rich Parker present District Superintendent Fred McCarthy with a series of awards and gifts. McCarthy received a certificate of achievement, a golden apple and a tie-wearing teddy bear.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Superintendent Fred McCarthy left his dream job amid plentiful thanks, hearty laughter and a teddy bear with a tie.

McCarthy had his final school board meeting on June 22. At the start of the business meeting, the school board and teachers’ union representatives officially thanked him for five years of service to South Whidbey schools.

A former teacher, McCarthy spent his career seeking a district to lead as superintendent before retiring.

“What a gift to live in your dream fulfilled,” McCarthy said.

School board members heaped praise on the departing superintendent.

Board Chairman Rich Parker thanked McCarthy and recalled the hiring process that brought him to South Whidbey. Parker noted the expectations the board and McCarthy set out at the time of his hiring, specifically updating the curriculum.

“You met all of those expectations,” Parker said.

There was no golden watch for McCarthy’s retirement farewell. Instead, the board presented McCarthy with a golden apple.

Board Member Leigh Anderson thanked McCarthy for bringing order to a school district that had a “chaotic, siloed mentality.” She credited her tenure with the board to McCarthy’s work and stability.

Jan McNeely and Val Brown, co-presidents of the teachers’ union, thanked McCarthy with a teddy bear wearing a tie -- noting that McCarthy’s tie-wearing days were at an end.

McNeely offered a gentle goodbye, considering the relationship between the administration and staff that was tested by budget cuts, year after year of layoffs, and efforts to close the primary and middle schools.

“It’s been interesting, that’s safe to say,” McNeely said.

The school board, the district’s directors and principals and a dozen citizens laughed at McNeely’s comment.

“We rarely agree on anything,” McNeely said. “That’s the way this relationship goes.”

McCarthy gave thanks, as well, to the board and McNeely and Brown.

“Thank you for teaching me humility,” he said.

McCarthy’s last day was June 30, and Josephine “Jo” Moccia began her job as district superintendent on July 1.

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