For the first time in 11 years, Mike O'Leary will not be seen around Foxborough Public Schools Monday.
That's because the Schools Facilities Manager's retirement became effective last Friday.
"I do have mixed emotions," O'Leary said. "I’ve loved the jobs, working with the crew and so forth but I don’t think I could stand another winter with my wife in Florida and me here. Two of [those winters] were enough."
O'Leary, with his wife and family on hand, was a honorary captain for Foxborough High School's football game against North Attleboro this past Friday. He, along with the Warriors' captains, stood at midfield for the coin toss and after the Warriors elected to defer, O'Leary was given a game ball as a token of appreciation for all he had done for Foxborough Public Schools over his 11 years of service.
And while O'Leary may no longer be physically seen around the school district, his accomplishments over the years will be ever present in the conditions of the buildings and the recent improvements to the high school.
"I remember before Mike [O'Leary] came walking into some of these buildings and just feeling that there had to be a better way [to maintain and present them] and things had to be better than what they were," said Bill Yukna, Foxborough Public Schools Business Administrator. "I can honestly say walking into the buildings now, I’m proud that they are our buildings. While Mike has a great staff, it’s truly a tribute to Mike. That’s why we are where we are."
O'Leary, humbled by the praise he received from administrators and School Committee members at its Sept. 17 meeting, said he could not have accomplished anything in 11 years without the help and support of others.
"I do want to stress that I did not do this alone," O'Leary said. "I’ve been very fortunate to have a great custodial staff in all the buildings. I have four great, very talented mechanics. I had tremendous support from the administration and tremendous support from the school committee. We couldn’t have accomplished all of this [without it]."
Superintendent of Schools Debra Spinelli said O'Leary is one of the "most humble people you will ever meet" before giving him the credit he deserves for turning the Foxborough Public Schools facilities around.
"As a parent before and an administrator now and a teacher before and an administrator now ... to me some of the things Mike has done and situations he has created are like night and day [to what they were before him]," Spinelli said. ... "It’s just unbelievable what Mike has done for this district and he has put us in such great shape that there really are no words to describe this man’s contribution."
School Committee member Martha Slattery said she has known O'Leary for "many years" as a neighbor.
"Lived next door to Mike and our kids grew up together," Slattery said. "When I sat on the school committee we talked about [the Facilities Manager] position and I told [the administration at the time] that [O'Leary] has more credentials than God. ... I don’t think two people [O'Leary and his wife] have given more and I think this community is better for it. Mike has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for the football team that I’ve ever seen. He’s committed to this community and it shows. He wants the best for all of us and he brought the best."
School Committee member Bruce Gardner also reflected on what O'Leary has meant to the district and the community for the past 11 years.
"We are able to talk about programs like what [currently taking place at the high school], like what the administrators [bring to the committee]. ... All of these programs we can talk about because we have the foundation that [O’Leary] established and maintained," Gardner said.
And on Friday, after his final day as Foxborough's Schools Facilities Manager, O'Leary, with family by his side, was watching the Foxborough High School football team from his familiar spot on the sidelines as the Warriors beat North Attleboro, 21-0.
A great ending to a great career.
_Anthony "Tony" Moussalli takes over as Foxborough's next Facilities Manager_.