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Longtime principal to retire from Hampton's Poff Elementary at end of year

| Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after the current school year.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after the current school year.
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after the current school year.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after the current school year.
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after this school year.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after this school year.
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after this school year.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Poff Elementary School Principal Michael Mooney sees his students off, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 in Hampton. The longtime principal is retiring after this school year.

Getting ready to swap a lifetime of schoolwork for endless recess is Michael Mooney, retiring principal of Poff Elementary School in Hampton.

“You kind of know when it's time,” said Mooney, 64, of Shaler. ”I had a sister pass away a couple years ago. ... I'd like to spend time with my family and friends.”

“I'm looking forward to golfing more,” he said. “I like to walk and work out, so I'll continue to do that.”

The Hampton Township School Board recently voted to accept Mooney's resignation — effective June 30.

“I'll really miss the kids,” said Mooney, a former minor league baseball player.

“It's just a great little school,” Mooney said about Poff Elementary School, which enrolls 275 students.

“You get to know everybody,” he said. “You get to know the parents. ... Some of our parents went here.”

As a retiree, Mooney looks forward to traveling and going on cruises with his wife, Diane, 61, former principal of the former Holy Spirit Catholic School in Millvale.

Diane Mooney also is retiring this year and leaving her Goodwill Industries job as transition coordinator for children with special needs.

The couple met as University of Pittsburgh students.

“She was a gymnast and I was a trainer, and during the winter I would work with the gymnastics and swimming staff,” Mike Mooney said.

The couple has two sons, Michael, 32, and Tim, 24.

District Superintendent John Hoover shared his admiration for the departing principal.

“Mike has demonstrated the uncanny ability to maintain very high expectations while providing a very nurturing environment,” Hoover wrote in an email.

“Mike is an outstanding administrator who is passionate about education and compassionate about the people with whom he works. As a former professional athlete, he knows the value of hard work, but he also understands the importance of teamwork. Mike has been a great leader for Team Poff.”

Longtime school board member Gail Litwiler described Mooney as a quiet leader.

“He has always understood that the education of young people is about more than just the classroom — it's about parents, teachers and the community, and their involvement,” Litwiler said.

“Poff School and the school district owe him thanks and gratitude.”

Before he became principal at Poff, Mooney worked from 1993 to 1998 as principal at St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School in Indiana Township.

Mooney previously worked as an athletic trainer and assistant to the president of Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel and assistant headmaster of Hebron Academy in Maine.

A Buffalo, N.Y., native, Mooney launched his career in education after being drafted as a high school senior by the Boston Red Sox in 1970.

Mooney played four years at the minor league level of the Red Sox organization before he was released and eventually got his bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education and health at Pitt. While working at Poff, Mooney got his doctorate in educational leadership from Duquesne University.

Mooney said his positive relationship with coaches and teachers in high school initially sparked his desire to work in education.

“I kind of always did want to be a teacher,” Mooney said.

Deborah Deasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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