This June, University High School Principal Daryl Hart will retire after a career in education that spans 37 years.
Yet there are no plans for taking the motorhome to the Grand Canyon just yet.
Later in the same month, Hart will begin a new endeavor as a project manager in the Central Valley School District’s facilities department, helping to coordinate the construction of a new building that will house Spokane Valley Tech, a branch campus of the NEWTECH Skills Center that provides career training for students in a variety of fields.
In his new role, Hart will be working with architects and builders and remain on until the end of 2012. He will travel to Yakima soon to tour the skills center there.
“I will still be part of the district,” Hart said. “It will just be a different point of view.”
As for Hart and his plans after the end of the year, he is looking forward to traveling with his wife, Cathy, and spending more time with his family. Daryl and Cathy are parents to five grown children, four of whom live outside Washington.
Hart arrived at University in 2004 after serving as a secondary school principal in the Monroe School District located in Snohomish County. He was also among the finalists for the principal job at Ferris and North Central high schools, but CVSD Superintendent Mike Pearson hired him first.
Hart said CVSD was his first pick.
“I’d always heard that if you want to work in Spokane, the Central Valley or Mead school systems are the best,” he said.
Hart took over at a time when the debate over a four-period vs. six-period school day was at its peak in the district. While Central Valley High School transitioned to the six-period, semester schedule, University remained at four.
At the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, Hart made the decision to switch to the six-period semester system, in part to help students better prepare for assessment testing in math and biology. Before, as many as one-third of University students were not enrolled in a math or biology class when the test was given.
“It was a tough transition for our teachers,” Hart said. “It took a year, but I think it gives our students a better chance to succeed.”
Like his good friend and counterpart at Central Valley High School, Mike Hittle, Hart can be seen at many school events, from basketball games to band concerts, attending on his own time. When the Titans girls and boys basketball teams advanced to state this season for the first time in school history, Hart made the trip to Tacoma.
“I think it’s important to kids and coaches that they see that support,” Hart said. “It’s been a vital part of my entire career.”
U-Hi boys basketball coach Garrick Phillips said Hart is respected among employees at the school.”
“Daryl’s been super supportive of me as a teacher and coach,” Phillips said. “I’ll miss talking basketball with him.”
Hart participated in basketball, cross country and track as a student at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. His varsity basketball coach was the late Dan Fitzgerald, who went on to coach the Gonzaga men’s basketball team from 1978 to 1997.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Idaho, Hart considered studying law, but eventually decided on a future in education. He would later add a master’s in education administration to his bachelor’s degree from Idaho.
Hart began his educational career in Buhl, Idaho, in 1974 where he taught social studies at the junior high school level and eventually became an assistant principal. In 1979, he moved to Post Falls where he served as a junior high school and high school assistant principal. In 1982, he was named principal at Kettle Falls High School. He would later serve as principal at schools in Nevada and western Washington.
Regardless of the school or role, Hart said he worked to be “a good listener who treated people with respect and dignity at all times.”
CVSD Superintendent Ben Small said Hart has been a valuable part of the district’s team.
“During his tenure as University High School principal, Daryl has applied his years of administrative experience with a commitment to create the best learning for his students,” he said.
As for Hart’s replacement, the district was expected to announce a list of finalists this week. A community event is scheduled for Monday, April 16, for residents to meet the finalists and ask questions. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at the University theater, 12420 E. 32nd Ave. Melanie Rose, CVSD spokeswoman, said the new principal is slated to start on July 1.
Hart said the last few months as principal will provide an opportunity to reflect and acknowledge a fellow cadre of educators that “is caring and supportive and works with students to help them be successful.”
“I already know something like graduation is going to be pretty emotional for me,” Hart said.