It was time.
For Amy Wagner, the principle reason to announce her retirement after 15 years at the helm of Belmont's Wellington Elementary School was that it was the right time to do so.
"I wanted to wait until the right time when the new Wellington was built and I feel like it's in a good place. There's a great staff in place and a great community and it's time to do something new," Wagner told Belmont Patch today, Friday, Sept. 14, in her office just off the entrance to the school.
Wagner's last day will be Dec. 1. Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston has begun the search for Wagner's replacement.
Just because she'll be leaving Belmont doesn't mean Wagner will stop being an educator.
"It's time to have a new adventure," said Wagner, which will include traveling with her husband and remaining in the profession, most likely in teacher training and mentoring young educators and administrators.
After graduating from Antioch College in Ohio with a degree in environmental education – she would later receive a master's from Boston University – Wagner's first position was teaching environmental science at Yosemite National Park and then crossed the country when she found out that there was a need for a educator on Thompson Island in Boston Harbor.
She started teaching in Lexington before becoming a principal in Westwood and the assistant superintendent and curriculum director in Groton Dunstable before being offered the position at the Wellington in 1997.
"You have a great community here and a great school. I really enjoyed it here," Wagner said.
Wagner will also be known for shepherding the Wellington community through the difficult transition of leaving the old school – which was the former High School – teaching in modular buildings for two years and returning in September 2011 to a ultra-modern facility at the location of the old school.
"And what I'm really proud of is that we maintained high academic standards through all of this. It was a lot of work in terms of the building but also keeping that focus on teaching and learning and that's what's important," she said.
But it will be the kids and the staff that Wagner said she'll miss the most.
And as for her final day, Wagner predicts "a little laugh, a little cry. A lot of mixed emotions."
"It's bittersweet to leave but it's also exciting to start something new," she said.