Mike Hagadone built an impressive career in the world of public education, serving students across two states and five school districts. But all good things must eventually come to an end and Hagadone will join the ranks of retirees with the close of August.
He has been a teacher and coach, a vice principal and principal and, most recently, advanced to the No. 2 position in the White River district. He has served as deputy superintendent since for three years.
It all adds up to a 40-year career that Hagadone looks back on with satisfaction. He says he has enjoyed each step, and every stop, along the way.
But everyone about to close the book on a long career gets asked the same question: any regrets?
“There have been times when I thought, ‘why did I ever leave the classroom?’”
IT STARTED IN NORTH IDAHO
Hagadone was born and raised in the picturesque North Idaho town of Sandpoint, graduating about the time it was transitioning from working-class to tourism-based. He headed a bit more than 100 miles south to attend the University of Idaho and, following graduation, he returned to Sandpoint where he was a social studies teacher and coach. He spent a decade at his alma mater, serving as head football coach the final three seasons.
Looking for a change of scenery, the Hagadone family packed up and moved to Sumner. “They were wonderful years,” he said, “and it was a great opportunity for us.”
He taught both social studies and physical education during his six-year stay, aside from serving six seasons as the Spartans’ head football coach. That was followed by four years at Enumclaw High, where Hagadone was head football coach and taught P.E.
At that point he had tallied 20 years in the classroom and prowling sidelines – all time well spent. “That was my life,” he said. “I was passionate about it.”
PROFESSIONAL GOALS CHANGE
Like many before him, Hagadone had prepared for an eventual transition into educational leadership. Armed with administrative credentials, he landed a job as assistant principal at Puyallup High School.
“I learned what I didn’t know about the operation of a fairly large high school,” he says with a laugh. “In a district that large, there’s a lot of layers.”
Hagadone’s small-town roots are part of what delivered him to the Plateau.
“I knew nothing about Buckley or the White River School District,” he said, but he took a chance and he landed the job in the still-new high school building and began a six-year run that still provides some of Hagadone’s fondest professional memories.
“At that time, it was about changing the culture,” he says. “It’s not just about kids going to college, it’s about career and technical education.” Acknowledging that students learn in different ways and at varying paces, he said, the goal always was “to have high expectations for kids.”
During his time in the White River High principal’s chair, the school achieved a 90 percent graduation rate, senior classes topped the million-dollar mark in scholarships and the number of Advanced Placement classes boomed. Those are points of pride Hagadone holds close.
With a successful track record, Hagadone was tabbed by Superintendent Janel Keating to join the district’s administrative team as director of secondary education. That was in the fall of 2012 and Hagadone has worked in the 1910-built administrative building since.
Duties changed and, three years ago, he was made deputy superintendent. That means he’s “responsible for the day-to-day operation of the district,” Hagadone said. Specifically, he works with district principals and keeps tabs on athletics, the district’s safety and security measures and the Community Activities Program.
Being in administration means losing daily contact with students and that, Hagadone says, “is a balance we try to maintain.” When decisions are made, the question always asked is “how does this impact learning?” he said. And there’s a second question: is this something we’d do for our own kids?
SO WHAT COMES NEXT?
Once his 40-year-career is neatly tucked away, “we’ve got a lot of years of grandparenting ahead of us,” Hagadone says.
Once the world returns to normal, there are likely some travel plans to be made, he said, “and there are a lot of golf courses I want to explore.”
One thing that won’t change is his Buckley address. “We love it here,” he said.