Kenwood Principal Virginia Mantela Is Retiring
After 14 years as principal, educator wants more time with her family.
For Kenwood Elementary Principal Virginia Mantela, working in a small community with a small school system had its perks.
With a few hundred children in the school, it was easy to know every child, their parents and siblings, Mantela said. She also enjoyed having more control over changes that need to be made in the school.
Mantela, a Fenton resident, has been Kenwood principal for 14 years and will retire this month to reclaim family time.
“I love what I do. Leaving will be bittersweet,” Mantela said. “But I think it’s important for me to give my family more time. My grandson is seven-years-old right now and before I know it he will be 20.”
Her husband Gerald Mantela retired 12 years ago and she decided it was time to free her schedule and check off some of the items on her lengthy to-do list. As as administrator, Mantela said she dedicated a lot of time to her job and found it hard to visit her children, Wayne and Dawn, who live out of state.
Mantela doesn't expect to stay away from education. She hopes to find a part-time position steering higher education students in the right direction.
“Working in the field of education is the most wonderful experience,” Mantela said. “Seeing the sparkle in a child’s eye is really, really fulfilling.”
Kenwood teacher Norma Frame has worked with Mantela for 10 years. “She is extremely compassionate and fair,” Frame said. “She always listens to both sides of the issue and she accepts us the way we are but expects us all to grow.”
Frame said the Clawson board needs to look for the experience and nurturing that Mantela brought to the school in a new principal. She said Kenwood needs someone who puts the needs of others first and makes students feel safe and comfortable.
Kenwood Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Kimmi Carlesimo said Mantela succeeded in unifying the teachers at Kenwood over the years. Many of those teachers now co-teach in multi-grade classrooms.
“It’s going to be a tough change I think,” Carlesimo said. “As a principal she really went out of her way to help every kid. She has thoroughly been involved in every iota -- every single piece of what goes on at the school.”
“We’re going to miss her very much but we hope she enjoys her years with her husband and her grandson,” Frame said.