LYNN — Gene Constantino, who has been principal at Lynn Classical for the past nine years, said Thursday he is retiring from his position, effective in two weeks.
Constantino, a Peabody resident, has accepted an assistant principal’s position at St. Mary’s. He will become the second principal from the Lynn Public School system to move into the St. Mary’s administration in the past five years. James Ridley, former director at Lynn Tech, was principal until last year, when David Angeramo, former principal at Salem High, took over.
Constantino said that initially he’d been talking about retiring at the end of the upcoming school year, but when he heard about the St. Mary’s opening, he applied for it.
“This came about very quickly,” said Constantino.
Patrick Tutwiler, Lynn’s school superintendent, said Constantino’s retirement will be a big loss for the system.
“I worked closely with him while I was an assistant superintendent,” said Tutwiler, “and I know him as an incredibly passionate educator who would go to the ends of the earth for a student, or a colleague.
“One of the first impressions I got of him was going to Classical, which at the time was approaching 1,700 students, and watching him interact with students. Now, I know he probably didn’t know everybody’s name, but it sure seems that way. His leadership style is built around relationships.”
Constantino has worked in the Lynn school system since 1976, spending the first five years at Cobbet Junior High as a special needs instructor. When the special needs program moved over to Classical in 1981, Constantino moved to the school with it.
While at Classical, he also worked as a guidance counselor and then assistant principal before being picked to replace Warren White.
In addition, he served as the school’s girls basketball coach and helped develop future Division 1 players Helen Ridley and Monique Lee, both of whom went to Quinnipiac. His 2004 team was undefeated during the regular season before bowing out in the Division 1 North final.
A 1971 Medford High graduate, Constantino attended Salem State and studied social work. He received his master’s of education from UMass Boston.
“I’ve learned so much working for Lynn Public Schools,” said Constantino. “I’ve received much more than I’ve given. The students have been amazing, and I was privileged to work with faculty and staff who were colleagues first and then people I supervised.”
“Classical was a very engaging school when I got there, and I’ve had to say it still is,” said Constantino. “I have no regrets, save for the fact that I wish the timing of this had been better.”
Tutwiler said that launching a full-scale search for a principal in the middle of August is unwise, “so we’ll probably look to have a temporary one in place by the time school starts.
“This is still pretty fresh,” said Tutwiler.
“The school is well set up to succeed,” he said. “They have capable assistants, and other staff members, in place. That’s one other thing that you can say about Gene’s leadership: that even as he leaves, the school is in fine shape.”
“I loved my job every day I was there,” Constantino said.