The South Huntington Union Free School District bid an emotional farewell to longtime Superintendent Dr. Thomas Shea Wednesday.
Speaking to a full house seated in the Whitman auditorium prior to the annual senior awards ceremony, school board President Jim Kaden said Shea requested little recognition but deserved it for time spent serving the district.
"In May of 2003, he took over as superintendent in what was to be a difficult spring," said Kaden, before presenting a plaque to Shea on behalf of the district. "Moving on, things have stabilized greatly under his leadership and we thank you for your time, your vision and your leadership to the community."
In a brief, unprepared statement, an emotional Shea said he was passionate about doing what was right for kids while balancing what was right for the community, taxpayers and staff.
Originally from East Meadow, Shea has served 42 years as a teacher and administrator during his career; 14 of those in South Huntington where he began as an assistant superintendent of schools.
"I've lived in other communities. I've worked in other school districts and I hope that everybody in this room knows what a very special place South Huntington is," said Shea, pausing to catch his composure ... "and what an honor it has been to work for you. Thank you."
Announcing in September his decision to retire at the end of the school year, Shea said to another school district but hopes to spend more time with his family.
After a lengthy search process, to replace Shea beginning July 1.