Lee to retire after 27 years with Wayland Public Schools

Happy Hollow principal to retire, spend time with volunteering and art

Caterina Tomassini

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Credit: Caterina Tomassini

After 27 years with Wayland Public Schools, Happy Hollow Elementary School Principal James Lee is preparing for his retirement at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Although he’s unsure of his plans for retirement, Lee knows that he wants to continue to stay active and challenge himself with new activities. “I think of [retirement] as graduation,” Lee said. “I’m graduating to try something new and keep myself fresh by doing something different.”

Happy Hollow Elementary School Principal James Lee will be retiring at the end of June after 27 years with Wayland Public Schools. After teaching in the Special Education department for six years and working multiple years in regular education at Claypit Hill Elementary, Lee was offered the position of principal of Happy Hollow. Despite his desire to remain in the classroom, Lee accepted the offer and stepped away from his students.

“You should always be trying to do new things and grow yourself,” Lee said.

In terms of growing himself, Lee grew to love the school environment both as a teacher and as an administrator.

“The biggest growth is that the more you get to know families and kids, you see that everybody’s family is very much the same,” Lee said. “We have the same problems and the same kinds of things we work through. We celebrate in different ways, but we all celebrate something together.”

During his time as principal, Lee was able to become familiar with many of his students. He developed a passion for guiding kids in the right direction by taking the time to teach them.

“I like the part of the job where I get to help kids work through discipline issues that [I] actually teach them through and that they learn something from,” Lee said.

One of Lee’s most important philosophies is that kindness matters. His motto of kindness is spread throughout the classrooms and between students.

“Being a principal is a great thing in that you get to set a tone for what the theme of the school will be,” Lee said. “I really believe that kindness matters – it really changes the world. People can’t do things that are mean and be kind at the same time.”

Kindness will still be on the agenda for Lee, but instead of it being in the classroom, it will be spread around the community. Although he’s not certain of his plans after retirement, Lee hopes to spend his free time doing volunteer work revolving around reading and literacy. If not, he is considering spending time writing or practicing art, owing to the fact that prior to his time in education, he studied art.

“I think of [retirement] as graduation,” Lee said. “I’m graduating to try something new and keep myself fresh by doing something different.”