Pinkerton Headmaster Mary Anderson retiring after 39 years
DERRY — After 39 years at Pinkerton Academy, retiring headmaster Mary Anderson is preparing to say farewell to the senior class for the last time.
As her days at the high school dwindled, she said she was searching for what to say to the graduates. The Class of 2014 is scheduled to graduate Monday.
“I keep thinking about my graduation speech because the class is to go on to the next chapter — as I am,” the popular Anderson said recently from her office.
It’s understandable she would need time to reflect on her words after a career that spans nearly four decades.
Her 39 years at Pinkerton, combined with the 16 years of her own education, have taken up 55 years, almost her entire life, the 60-year-old said.
“I came here; I loved it — I just never left,” Anderson said.
The students, in turn, have shown their gratitude in recent weeks. They inducted her into the Honor Society as an honorary member and asked her to throw out the first pitch at the baseball team’s last home game, she said.
“It’s just little things like that that mean so much to me — to be asked by kids to do stuff like that,” Anderson said.
Gerald Ford was President when she began as an educator at Pinkerton in 1975. Anderson was hired as a teacher and went on to lead the school’s business department. She became assistant headmaster and was named headmaster in 2003, replacing Bradford Ek.
Anderson has made the same 12- mile, 20-minute commute from her home in Fremont throughout her years at Pinkerton.
“My car knows its way here,” she joked.
During her tenure, Anderson said her biggest accomplishment has been to oversee the establishment of Pinkerton’s many diverse programs, such as Adult Education, Career and Technical Education and the honors program.
“It’s just heartwarming for me to see the opportunities that kids have here,” she said.
“We have beautiful buildings here — not to take anything away from that because they are beautiful — but it’s the programming that makes the difference.”
While she is proud of her accomplishments, she said she is going to miss most of all the students and people she’s met through the years. She said she remembers a trip she made to Los Angeles a few years ago. When she arrived at the L.A. airport, she was spotted by a former student who she taught in 1986.The student was shouting her name as she came racing down the tarmac to greet Anderson, still eager to see her after all those years.
“There’s no greater gift for an educator than to be recognized by your student, none at all,” said Anderson, who has received a number of notes and cards from former students in the last month.
“To me, those notes I will treasure, and I’ve read them a couple of times already,” she said. “I will keep them because that’s what it’s about — it’s all about the kids.”
Anderson has stayed in touch with another Pinkerton graduate, Andy Seuss, Class of 2005, who has gone on to become a race driver on the NASCAR circuit. She said she remembers when Seuss, who was still attending Pinkerton at the time, told her he wanted to become a race car driver. Seuss asked her if he could leave school for about 10 days so he could enter some races in the South. Anderson said she told him it would be all right since he was a good student and could make up the work when he returned.
As for her future plans, Anderson said she wants to spend time with her family. She also plans to become involved in her town again after so long of an absence. She has been elected to the Fremont Budget Committee and plans to begin singing again in the church choir.
She said she might even consider entering politics.
And then there’s her love of NASCAR and the desire to visit as many race tracks across the country as possible.
“One of the things on my bucket list is to try to make it to every NASCAR track before I die,” she said.
Keenly aware of her affection for all things NASCAR, some students a few weeks ago put the number 98 on the golf cart she rides around campus. She smiled as she said the number belongs to a driver who just recently joined the circuit.
As she nears the finish line of her career, Anderson said she knows she will always be welcome by the Pinkerton community.
“It’s been an interesting career. I’m going to miss Pinkerton. I’ve been assured that there is always going to be a place for me here, so I’ll be back visiting — I’m sure.”