Marty Mahar is returning to his roots in elementary education, as well as a familiar school as he moves from Columbia to Bell Top this year. He is filling in for Principal Jim McHugh who is on a medical leave of absence.
As a lifelong resident of this community, Mr. Mahar knows Bell Top well. He was a student there, and years later after graduating from Columbia High School, student-taught at Bell Top in kindergarten and fourth grade.
Mr. Mahar started his teaching career as a substitute teacher following college. He subbed at every school in the District and then landed a full-time teaching position at Genet. He spent 14 years there, teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade, including six years alongside Mr. McHugh who recommended him for this interim principal position.
“I always thought about returning to the elementary level because I loved it so much,” Mr. Mahar said.
After Genet, Mr. Mahar spent 10 years as an assistant principal at Columbia High School.
“Columbia has prepared me very well for this. I’ve taught younger kids and then seen what they become as high school students. It opened my eyes and gave me perspective on a child’s development and what they need to be prepared for.”
Mr. Mahar comes from a family of educators. His mother taught at Bell Top, his wife Lisa teaches fourth grade at Red Mill and his daughter Carina now teaches at Green Meadow. Education is a passion that clearly comes across when speaking with him.
Mr. Mahar has showed a special interest in the Learning Barn where students learn about science through hands-on activities in making apple cider, and one of his hobbies, maple syrup. He has 21 apple trees at his home where he makes three different varieties of maple syrup each year. He hopes to share some of his knowledge with the students, and also learn from them.
“It’s going to be fun for me,” he said.
As the school year approaches, Mr. Mahar is excited to welcome the students and staff back to Bell Top. He hopes to support the staff the way Mr. McHugh has done over the years.
“If I can come even close to what he does, I’ll feel like I’ve succeeded because he’s an amazing principal,” Mr. Mahar said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”