Bill Tirone spends his last few months before retirement in his office in Ashland Elementary School. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
February 29, 2012ASHLAND—When Bill Tirone started teaching at Ashland Elementary school 40 years ago, he didn't expect to be spending his professional life in Ashland.
"My initial thought when I applied for a job here 40 years ago was to be here two years, and here I am times 20," said Tirone.
Now, as he plans to retire at the end of this school year, he has taken the time to reflect on his past 40 years at Ashland Elementary.
"It was a big decision whether to continue or not to," said Tirone. "It's a tough decision to leave the people I have known for a big part of my life. Some of the teachers have been here with me for over 30 years, and I am going to miss the camaraderie. It's not they work for me — we work together, and it's been a great collaboration throughout."
When Tirone first started out 40 years ago, fresh out of college, he was in an athletic state of mind.
"I started and taught 11 years as a physical education teacher, and I taught K through 12 phys-ed, and I was an athletic director and coached many sports," said Tirone.
After being a physical education teacher, an athletic director and the coach of baseball, basketball and soccer — to name a few — he wanted a new challenge.
"I wanted to move on to do new challenges, and the new challenge was a huge challenge," said Tirone.
Some of the biggest challenges in his career came as principal of the school, particularly when the K-12 school decided to close the high school, turning Ashland's school into a K-8.
"My least favorite memory was probably the closing of the high school," said Tirone. "It was a tough time for the town to determine that their local school was not going to be regionalized. Those were tough times to be around and try to convince people that it was better for kids, and I think it has still proven to be better for kids."
Though the closing of the high school was a tough time, Tirone has had an overall rewarding experience being principal because he has been able to watch students grow.
"My favorite part (of being principal) would be dealing with kids and seeing their growth from kindergarten, especially when it was a K-12 school," said Tirone. "To see them mature from kindergarten to 12th graders and become adults has so many great times associated with it."
Now that Tirone has publicly announced his retirement, he has been fielding the big question: What are you going to do once you retire?
"People have been asking me what I am going to do, and at least to being with, absolutely nothing, and do whatever I want, whenever I want," said Tirone. "I have been working from age 12 on; when I was young, it was summers anyway, 8-5 every day. There isn't a lot of time left before or after that to do much. Weekends are jammed into getting things you have to do accomplished, and it was always rushed. I just want to take my time."
A lot of Tirone's time will be spent with family on what he calls "extended vacation."
"It will be nice to spend time with my grandchildren, my wife, and my kids that is usually jammed into vacation time," said Tirone. "Now I am hoping to extend vacation, making every day vacation!"
Though Tirone is excited about the prospect of vacation every day, he would like to continue to be involved and help the new principal as necessary.
"I really would like to stay involved, but I really don't want to interfere with the new person and what challenges they are going to have in front of them," said Tirone. "If they need any information that I have, I would be more than happy to share it with them."
Tirone has high hopes for the new candidate that will be selected to serve as the school's new principal this spring, to keep all of the programs and unfinished business in place and continue on with everything he has set up in his time as principal.
"My biggest hope is that whoever takes my place will carry on programs and initiatives and things that we've started, and things that we're in the middle of, and things we're on the end of — that things will be carried through," said Tirone. "That's a big, important thing to me because the staff here have been very loyal to me, and to the school and to kids. To see that go to the wayside would be the most painful thing. Hopefully, it will be able to carry on without too much change because I think we are a good operation, and I think kids are at a good place."
With mixed emotions and 40 years of hard work and dedication to the Ashland Elementary School, Tirone has seen so much change and success over the years. Knowing he has made a difference in the school gives him a piece of mind as he eases into retirement.
"I am looking forward to it, and I know I have left Ashland School in a better place than when I found it, and that is all of the reward that I need," said Tirone.