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Local News

September 27, 2013

Is reign of Queen Mary coming to an end?

SALEM — It’s not every week that school principals make news. But this is no ordinary time.

First ... the big news.

Mary Manning, who has headed Collins Middle School since Horace Mann was in short pants, has told her staff she is “looking to” retire at the end of the school year. It’s not cast in cement, but it’s pretty close.

In case you’re new to Salem, that’s big news.

Principal of Collins for the past 25 years, Mary is a beloved school figure who spends so much time at her school that some people think she lives in the attic. She is renowned for her devotion to kids — especially the hard-luck cases. And if you lined up all her friends, someone once said, they would circle the city several times.

Mayor Kim Driscoll may have put it best. The Salem public schools, the mayor said, “run through her veins.”

Manning has not submitted a formal letter of resignation, but all signs indicate she wants to see the current school construction project to the finish line and exit in June.

Manning, by the way, is going to be honored next weekend by the Boys & Girls Club at the Champion for Kids celebration. The tribute was planned long before word began to leak out of her planned retirement.

Principals Part II

Remember Charlie Chaurette? Sure, you do.

He was Manning’s co-principal at Collins a decade ago who went on to become superintendent in Amesbury. Well, Charlie’s back in town.

Chaurette is serving as interim principal at Nathaniel Bowditch School until a new principal is named.

And, speaking of retirements, Tom LaValley, the popular Bates School principal, has announced that he is hanging up the eraser after 40 years in education.

LaValley, who has headed Bates for the past 13 years, will be going out on a high note. In the recent round of MCAS tests, Bates received a Level 1 rating from the state for the solid progress it is making.

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