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Woodward Principal O'Neill retiring at end of school year

After eight years at the head of Woodward Middle School, Principal Mary Alice O’Neill has announced she will retire at the end of the school year.

She said her decision to retire was a tough one to make, but she feels confident her staff will keep the school on a positive path.

"I still love walking through the door at Woodward each and every day," O'Neill said. "But I felt it was the right time to retire."

The process for hiring the next Woodward principal will be discussed at the school board meeting Thursday.

O'Neill joined Bainbridge Island School District 10 years ago as an associate principal at Bainbridge High School. She became principal of Woodward in 2001.

Under O'Neill's leadership, Woodward was designated a National Blue Ribbon School in 2004, the only middle school in Washington to earn the recognition for student achievement.

Woodward Parent Teacher Organization President PTO Sarah Brandt-Erichsen said O'Neill and her staff had succeeded in creating "a challenging, exciting, and safe learning environment."

"The school hums with positive energy,” Brandt-Erichsen said.

O'Neill had a 28-year career in education prior to joining BISD. She taught at several schools in California and at the American School in Kuwait. She was also employed by the U.S. Department of Defense overseas.

O'Neill said she and husband Brian don't have any concrete plans for retirement, but will likely embark on a sailing adventure. The couple spent five years sailing around the world in the 1990s.

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