PORTAGE | After 30 years of teaching and coaching and leading, Caren Swickard is retiring.
The Portage High School principal of nine years made the announcement late last week to staff. She will retire at the end of the school year.
The decision, Swickard said, didn't come easy.
"I had been going back and forth. It has really been hard," she said, adding that her desire to spend more time with her family made it feel like the right time for her to move on with her life.
"I am going to miss these awesome kids," she said Monday. "I'm going to miss all the fun, fun stuff, the athletics, theater and other stuff."
Swickard, a PHS grad, began her career as a physical education teacher and gymnastics coach. She served as assistant principal at the high school, then principal at Fegely Middle School before being named PHS principal.
Swickard said she is most proud of being a part of the team that earned Portage High School an "A" grade.
"We made a come back and brought pride back to Portage High School," she said.
She said she looked at her role as principal as being much like a coach, putting the right people in the right place; giving them the tools they need, all with the goal of making the students successful in their high school careers.
"I've hired a lot of good quality people to help the kids be successful," she said. "My most important job was putting a good teacher in each classroom."
"Portage has been really good to me. They gave me a shot (when she became an administrator). I have a lot of good memories of a lot of good people who were influential in my life," she said. "When I first started, there weren't many women in administration."
"I wanted to be a good role model for the girls in the building. I wanted the girls to know they can be what they want to be," she said.