Longtime Marietta principal retiring

It’s been about three decades since Phillips Elementary Principal Joe Finley found himself inside the elementary schools of the Marietta City School district, and at the end of November he will spend his last day as an educator there.

Coming into his place is former Marietta Middle School Assistant Principal Todd Caltrider. The transition is one that Finley said will be a great opportunity to bring young blood into an administrative position.

“Overall, I’ll miss the ability to build the relationships with the school community, and that’s students, parents, teachers and administrative colleagues,” Finley said. “Those relationships all have to collaborate together and to problem-solve together for the good of the district.”

Finley will be working alongside Caltrider until Thanksgiving break.

“I’m very happy with all the personnel selections, and I know they’ll do an outstanding job,” Superintendent Harry Fleming said.

Currently, Finley and Caltrider are working out the logistics of running a 400-person student body and accompanying staff with just a few weeks left until the school year starts.

“I am excited to be back in my elementary roots because that’s where the bulk of my training is from,” Caltrider said. “With Joe working with me, I want to keep a lot of the things the same to see how it all works in motion, and from that point, I want to work with staff to tweak things and slowly make it all my own.”

Caltrider came to Marietta City Schools in 1999 as a teacher at Harmar Elementary, where he taught second, fourth and fifth grades before moving into his assistant principal job at MMS in 2011.

“I had always had it in the back of my head to move into an administrative position,” he said.

Finley said his decision to retire in November came from what he wanted for the district’s future.

“I wanted to see some younger people in the district, and I feared if I waited another year we’d lose some of the quality people who wanted to be administrators,” he said. “I knew this was the perfect time and it worked out.”

Brittany Schob, who spent four years teaching at Phillips Elementary, will take Caltrider’s place at the middle school

“I’ll miss the pace here, because this building moves at a high pace,” Finley said. “Very seldom is there downtime, and I’m pretty hyperactive, so that fits my personality well.”

Finley served as the director of what is now the Washington County Juvenile Center until he was hired as a fifth grade teacher at Putnam Elementary in the mid-’80s, eventually becoming the principal in 1990.

In 2008, Finley transferred over to serve as principal at Phillips before moving back to Putnam and also working as the director of instruction for the district in 2009, where he stayed until 2011 before moving back to Phillips.

He will retire with a most recently recorded salary of $70,975 a year, and Caltrider’s incoming salary has yet to be finalized.

Phillips Elementary fifth-grade teacher Sandra Kennell has worked at the school for 16 years, and said the school will say goodbye to a great guy.

“He is always so articulate, and we’ve learned a lot from him,” she said.

Kennell said for teachers, constant transitions in staffing are normal, but she is glad to see there will be some overlap between Finley’s last few months and Caltrider’s first few.

“There’s a lot of communication and collaboration,” she said. “It takes a lot to run a building of this size.”

Kennell also noted that she is excited to get to know Caltrider, and hopes that all the support Finley gave to teachers will translate to him.

“With Joe, it’s always been about the kids,” she said. “And if you are a teacher and want to do something but you don’t have the resources, he helps you make it happen.”