Keen retires, reflects on time at Westfield Washington Schools

By Anna Skinner

Keen

Keen

After 19 years in the Westfield Washington School District, Supt. Dr. Mark Keen will retire March 31.

Keen, who is also a Westfield City Councilor, will be pursuing another opportunity that he is unable to announce just yet.

“It is one of those opportunities I feel I have to take advantage of, so I considered it and decided it would be a good thing to do,” Keen said. He will remain on city council and continue to reside in Westfield.

“It’s been a very fast 19 years because it’s been an enjoyable 19 years to really be part of a community that’s grown rather rapidly,” he said. “It’s really been fun because there’s a really great teaching staff and administrative staff and my interactions with the community have been great. I always felt Westfield was a little different than other places because there was the sense of community. Everybody seems to work together.”

An open house for Keen’s retirement will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. March 30 in the auditorium atrium of Westfield High School.

“Fortunately, the people selected to work in this district have been creative, and I think a lot of things have been done to really improve the opportunities for students in the school district,” Keen said.

Over his time as superintendent, Keen said the hardest part of the job always has been and always will be the issue of delaying and cancelling school due to poor weather.

“Sometimes people don’t realize how varied this area is with weather, what may not seem to be a safe decision I think is,” Keen said. “I’d never make a decision that wasn’t in the best interest of the safety of children. I always imagine my own kids will be on the bus and what I would do in that situation.”

In addition to the decision of cancelling school, Keen said construction has been difficult at times.

“Managing growth and managing that construction has been a challenge and will be for next superintendent because we are getting ready to go through a smaller but secondary wave of growth,” he said.

The next superintendent, Dr. Sherry Grate, was announced March 15 and will work with Keen throughout the rest of his tenure to better understand the Westfield Washington School District.