After more than 30 years as a educator and administrator, Jamie McNamara has decided to call it a career.
The St. Thomas Aquinos Roman (STAR) Catholic School division superintendent will officially retire at the end of August.
"I've spent many years in education, 34 to be exact. I believe in making changes…I've been provided with the opportunity to move forward…it was the right time for me to (go)," McNamara said.
McNamara has spent the last eight years of his career with STAR Catholic as the superintendent. Before joining the STAR head office in Leduc, McNamara spent 24 years in various roles with the Red Deer Catholic School division.
"I was a teacher, guidance counsellor, principal, vice-principal, and divisional principal," McNamara explained in an interview with the Pipestone Flyer.
McNamara got his teaching start in Fort McMurray, teaching Grade 6 students.
“Jamie is always fair in decision-making and sincere in what he does. He is one of the best superintendents I have ever worked for. I’m happy for him but for us it leaves a huge hole to fill,” reflected Luigi Gatti, Principal of Notre Dame School in Leduc in a press release from STAR Catholic School division.
The outgoing superintendent has spent his entire career within the Catholic school system.
"I was very blessed to have that opportunity," he said. Since joining STAR Catholic in 2005, McNamara has seen significant growth within the entire division. The student population has increase by 25 per cent during the past six years, including three new schools in Lacombe, Drayton Valley and Beaumont.
"The focus on student learning has been excellent…we've been blessed with the addition of three new schools. We went from seven schools to 10 schools in that time," he explained.
Last year, STAR Catholic was successful in expanding into the Pigeon Lake/Falun region, to offer parents in the region funding to bus their children into Sacred Heart School in Wetaskiwin. McNamara said there were already 20 students being bussed into Wetaskiwin from Falun.
"Sacred Heart has had the largest growth out of the schools with 400 students this year," McNamara said.
As for his replacement, McNamara said the school board will start looking in February and hope to have a new superintendent named by May.
"I'll be here until the end of August. There will be some transition time, about a month of cross over time. That will make the transition smoother, and to get them familiar with the division and get to know the staff and principals," McNamara explained.
When asked what he will miss the most about the job, McNamara said, the people.
"There's a lot of fond memories. I've made some wonderful relationships at STAR," he said.
"I'm most proud of the growth all the leaders across the division have been a part of. I really commend them on helping to advance Catholic education," he added.
McNamara said all the staff, board members and teachers at STAR Catholic are some of the best he's had the privilege to work with. "The division is in great hands…the whole board has been excellent to work with."