After 25 years as registrar and 12 years as safety specialist, Mary McAlvey is retiring from Endeavor as a true keeper of an “all hands on deck” mentality that has solved many problems and satisfied many queries each school year.
“It just comes naturally to me,” she said. “I’m sure that I’ve gotten better at it over the years, just learning how to respond to all the interruptions and the different responses from people who come in the door.”
What she will remember most from her time at Endeavor is the connections she forged with the students, some of whom would come into the office with words of appreciation, saying, “We’re so glad you’re here.”
It isn’t lost on McAlvey that some kids come from tough situations at home, and she strived to show them that, if nothing else, someone at the school cares.
“Asking someone, ‘Do you need a hug today?’ could mean I just had a 30-second interaction that could’ve changed someone’s day,” she said.
McAlvey has worked under six principals and has three grandchildren at Endeavor, which has outperformed the local district for 13 years. Along with Office Administrator Angel Taverna she created a “heavenly” atmosphere as “Angel and Mary” amid the sometimes-chaotic environment.
Both the nature of her position and the surrounding personnel changes required McAlvey to be a calm, adaptable voice. With each new principal came new systems and procedures and adjustments to expectations, with old habits and routines going out the window each time.
By consistently instilling safety procedures in people’s minds as the school safety specialist, McAlvey made building security reminders like keeping doors closed and locked become regular habits to better people’s routines. On the first day of each month, those at Endeavor were emailed a safety moment to be mindful of. And because “that’s not my job” is a phrase that isn’t in a registrar’s vocabulary, she was always there for any health or first aid help.
“Safety advice just comes naturally. That’s why we practice this,” she said. “It helps us create muscle memory through routines and drills.”
As McAlvey’s time as registrar nears the end, someone else will take the position, but there isn’t a guidebook for the next person to follow. Her job required her to be reactive and after so many years, much of it was inherent to her.
She won’t completely disappear, planning to go back as office sub. She will welcome retirement but wants to stay mentally and physically sharp by multitasking, perhaps at just a lesser pace than she kept at Endeavor.
When McAlvey leaves, the school machine will continue with different parts. After being receptive to so much change around her at the school, it’s time for her to be part of it.
“It’ll be different, but they’ll do a good job,” she said.
Congratulations on a great career, Ms. McAlvey!
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Endeavor Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Springfield, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.