End of school awaits

Mark Blythe sits in his Eugene school office. He will leave the superintendent’s post at the end of the school year to take a job with a food service company.

Mark Blythe sits in his Eugene school office. He will leave the superintendent’s post at the end of the school year to take a job with a food service company.

EUGENE — The year Mark Blythe began his employment with the Cole County R-V Schools, his son, Brett, started kindergarten.

His retirement in June will follow the May high school graduation of his daughter, Mackenzie.

Those are nice, shared milestones, he said, to bookend his 20 years first as principal and the last 14 as superintendent.

Overall, he wouldn’t change how his career has gone the last 31 years, Blythe said.

“It was a tough, stressful decision,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have control over the timing of things.”

Blythe had intended to pursue a second career in a school-related field. He thought he would retire in a couple more years.

But the business development associate position with OPAA Food Management Inc. opened this spring and it was an opportunity he knew might not come again.

After his retirement from Cole County R-V Schools in June, he will begin visiting with schools in the region about food service contracts.

What he will miss most are the day-to-day interactions with his office staff, employees and students.

What Blythe will not miss is making the weather calls regarding the traveling safety of hundreds of students and employees.

During his tenure as superintendent, brick-and-mortar improvements have included the performing arts center addition, the elementary gymnasium expansion and the athletic track.

And student academic achievement has increased in the last several years.

All of which, Blythe attributes primarily to the hand work of the administration, faculty and staff and the support from the community.

This fall, Blythe and his wife, Tresa, will still be in the bleachers watching Eugene ball games.

But it will be relaxing and without worry, he said.

He also looks forward to more golf and traveling and taking up fishing again.

Certain times of the year probably will bring a twinge of nostalgia — August when he would have greeted returning staff or Christmas when his office had hosted a large-scale Christmas party.

From coaching and teaching in Tuscumbia to principal at Lakeland and then his two decades at Eugene, Blythe said he has gained patience and perspective. But most importantly, he has developed relationships he hopes that will continue.

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