Bay Middle School principal Sean McAndrews has announced his retirement as effective July 1.
McAndrews has been with the Bay Village City School district since 2001, when he was named assistant principal at Bay High School. He became principal at Bay Middle School in 2005 after serving as a house principal at Lakewood High School and as a middle-school teacher at Lakewood and at St. Boniface in Cleveland.
“My nineteen-year tenure in Bay allowed me to develop long-term relationships with families as they had multiple children of different ages progress through our schools,” he said. “I can’t express how rewarding it has been for me to watch students grow academically, socially and emotionally, to get to know their families, and then to have many of them come back years after graduation to see me.”
As assistant principal and chief disciplinarian at Bay High, McAndrews was instrumental in establishing Bay Family Services, a partnership with the City of Bay Village that provides referrals for counseling and other support for families in various kinds of crisis. Key to the program is a juvenile diversion program, where the schools and police work together to get students who have gotten into trouble onto a path of correction that is rehabilitative in nature.
“We view these behaviors as mistakes, and there must be consequences. But in most cases we must also educate, rather than let the mistake destroy a life. It really is a unique situation here. None of us hesitates to pick up the phone, talk to the police chief, a detective or an officer. We collaborate with police to inform parents about current trends with drugs or other behaviors that get kids into trouble. This has always been supported here by our own board and administration, as well as by our mayor and city council.”
“Educating the ‘whole child’ is not just talk here,” he added. “Our children succeed because we have a supportive community and dedicated staff. Our teachers are true professionals, second to none. I’ve succeeded because I give our teachers the freedom to do what they do. They give our students the social and emotional support, as well as the academic support, that is needed to succeed. I will miss those relationships the most.”
McAndrews’ next stop will let him enjoy a warmer climate and a different educational role. He will be the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Barron Collier High School in Naples, Florida. With more than twice as many students as Bay High, in a county district with nine high schools, the experience will be a bit different for him.
“I’ve wanted to retire to the Naples area for a long time, and this unique opportunity came up” he said. “I have in-laws there, and my parents are there frequently. I have to say I do not like the winters in Ohio. And even though I won’t be retired from my profession, this new role lets me step back to focus on curriculum and instruction, and that still lets me have an impact on kids.”
In fact, McAndrews feels that his experience in working hard to help kids in crisis was key to his selection for the new position. He and his new boss are of the same philosophy – there is no such thing as a “throw-away kid.” Compelled to do more to prevent students from falling prey to the current opioid crisis, as some former students have, McAndrews has worked with others to warn parents through presentations and surveys that measure the extent of risky behaviors students are practicing. Last year, McAndrews introduced Preventure to Bay Middle School, a program that identifies personality traits that may lead to drug and alcohol abuse, counsels students to recognize and manage these tendencies in themselves, then suggests strategies for dealing with them in a positive way at those pivotal, emotional moments. He cites the program as yet another way to expand upon the work staff members have been doing for years to make a difference in kids’ lives.
“I got a wonderful message the other day from a student who had some struggles and went on to graduate college, truly through her own efforts,” he said. “She sent me a photo of her graduation cap that had Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote written on top, ‘Well behaved women rarely make history.’ She wanted me to see that, and I am so proud of her.” He notes that he has hired former students as teachers in the district, and he enjoys seeing them develop professionally to give back to the next generation.
McAndrews will no doubt continue to positively influence student lives in his new role. But his former students are sure to take away one final bit of advice that he gives to every class – “Nothing good happens after 10 p.m.” The reminder is a fitting good-bye from a school leader dedicated to keeping students on the path to a successful future.