Retirement No. 2 for Muscara

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Hampton Academy Principal Leaves Again

By Nancy Rineman

Hampton Union, Friday, June 15, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Fred Muscara, principal at Hampton Academy, will retire, again, at the conclusion of the school year.

HAMPTON -- Principal Fred Muscara will leave his position at Hampton Academy to give retirement a try once again.

He tried in 1994 when he was an assistant principal at Winnacunnet High School , but that plan was short-lived when he was immediately pursued as an interim principal at Hampton Academy .

"I think it’s going to hit me in July that I’m no longer the principal," Muscara said Wednesday. "It’s time to make a change."

Muscara entered the educational field in a less than conventional manner. He retired from his Army career in 1984 to become a "house-husband," staying home with his daughter, Amanda, while his wife continued her career. Later he went to college on the GI Bill, graduating with a degree in business. One of his professors at New Hampshire College tried to steer him into teaching, but Muscara said he didn’t know if that was a good idea after dealing with soldiers for 23 years.

He did substitute teaching at Winnacunnet High before he returned to school, certified in Social Studies. Hired as a permanent sub at WHS, he was fully immersed in teaching, when, in 1994, he accepted a position as dean of students at WHS for five years, followed by an assistant principal position for another five years.

When Muscara retired in 2004, SAU 21 Superintendent Jim Gaylord approached him about the Hampton Academy job.

"I told him I wasn’t qualified. I only had a bachelor’s degree," Muscara said.

After checking with the state, Gaylord arranged for Muscara to meet with the Hampton School Board.

"I told the board my shortcomings," Muscara said, "the things I was lacking."

But Muscara was offered the position of interim principal for a year, with a charge to "get the building back in order." That offer turned into a permanent position.

He said he owes thanks to School Board members Nancy Serpis, Ken Stiles, Carol Hollingworth, Sandy Nickerson and John Bridle for having faith in him.

Muscara said the school’s teachers held the building together in 2004. The school was a junior high, but many practices were more middle school, with teachers already using team approaches.

"We are a middle school," Muscara said. "We follow that seeing it as best for children, first and foremost."

Muscara said he can’t explain why the kids seem more needy now than three years ago, but he maintains a middle school concept is perfect for these children, socially and academically. It’s a concept that came about due to the efforts of many, he said.

"I’ve seen progress every year," Muscara said. "I know I’m leaving it in good hands."

While Muscara says he feels good about retiring, he knows he will miss the kids.

"I’m not going to be a stranger," he said. "It’s always good to have kids around you."

Muscara said it’s no coincidence he and his wife, Marilyn, will travel in late August coinciding with the first day of school here. The Muscaras will go to Germany to see sons, Robert and Stephan, and their families, which include three grandchildren. They will tour Austria , Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

The Austrian-born Muscara immigrated to Germany in 1957 and then to United States in 1958. He graduated from Fort Hamilton High School, Class of 1961, in Brooklyn, N.Y., joining the U.S. Army on July 5 that summer, "to get out of New York," he quipped.

Muscara said he’s considering a few ideas to keep busy, including involvement in the Masonic Learning Center in Rochester , which is devoted to helping dyslexic students. He will remain involved in breast cancer walks, a cause close to his heart since his wife’s diagnosis three years ago.

With his wife still working — she is a senior vice president for Citizens Bank — Muscara said the "honey do list is awful long." "I tell her she has to work to keep me in the lifestyle to which I’m accustomed," Muscara said jokingly.

"Who knows? Maybe I’ll start a third career," he said, a twinkle showing in his slightly misty eyes.

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