LORAIN — Diane Conibear’s six years as Lorain High School principal included merging two high schools into one and later moving students into two temporary buildings.
Conibear, who recently announced she will depart at the end of the school year in August, said the merger and move were the biggest challenges of her career. However, graduating students is the biggest accomplishment.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Conibear said Monday. “Helping kids reach that graduation goal and moving them on to the next step in life.”
Conibear accepted a job as director of pupil personnel at the Polaris Career Center, a Middleburg Heights-based adult education and high school vocational school. Conibear said she is interested in working in student services, and the job offers more stable hours than being principal which can often mean 12- to 15-hour workdays.
Conibear, who earns $109,000 annually, grew up in Brownhelm Township and Amherst, and was hired by Lorain Schools as a special education teacher in 2000. She previously worked five years as a Toledo Schools teacher.
Conibear was named interim principal in March 2008 and her first full school year as principal was in 2008-09. In 2010, Admiral King and Southview high schools merged into Lorain High School at 2600 Ashland Ave. Conibear, who said she had plenty of sleepless nights, oversaw the merger, which was in response to declining enrollment and saved about $2.8 million through consolidation of services and reduced energy costs.
To accommodate building a new Lorain High School, sophomores, juniors and seniors in 2012 were moved into the former Southview High School, 2270 E. 42nd St., while freshmen moved into the former Southview Middle School about a half-mile away at 2321 Fairless Drive. Combined enrollment is about 1,900 students.
Conibear said arranging schedules at different buildings was difficult and budget cuts exacerbated problems. Nonetheless, Conibear was praised for her efforts by school officials.
Superintendent Tom Tucker, who wrote Conibear a letter of recommendation, said the school district has big shoes to fill. “She did a nice job,” said Tucker, who said he hopes to find a replacement by the end of this month.
Conibear, 42, said her career goal is to someday become a superintendent. She is only two credits away from receiving her superintendent’s certificate. She said experience from the new job will be an asset if she ever becomes a superintendent.
While looking forward to the new job, Conibear said she’ll miss Lorain High School, where her son graduated last year and her daughter is a junior.
“The past six years have been the best part of my life,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”