Riverdale Grade School Principal Scott Grove will leave the district in June to pursue a second retirement that will include jet setting around the globe.
Grove, who has been at Riverdale for three years, announced his resignation at the school board meeting Monday.
Parents and colleagues in attendance gave him a standing ovation; some even wiped away tears.
'I thought, 'Oh my gosh!,' Grove said with a chuckle. 'It was much more than I expected.'
Grove, 56, was already retired from education when he moved into his role at the 320-student grade school in 2004.
At the time, the district sought stability in the role after watching six principals come and go in six years. Grove was not ready to stop working in public education, and agreed to commit to Riverdale for at least three years.
His promise was critical to Superintendent Thomas Hagerman, who started leading the district the same year.
'He served as a backbone for the district to help boost morale of the staff that had gone through a lot of administrators,' Hagerman said. 'He also provided a lot of stability for the kids and their families.'
Grove's career began 33 years ago, when he received a master's degree and administrative credentials from Portland State University.
He then taught at the elementary level for 15 years and worked the following 18 years in various administrative positions in the Battle Ground School District in Battle Ground, Wash.
After retiring, Grove took the Riverdale job because it was an opportunity to keep working in the field he loves and lend his talents.
'I have a hard time seeing myself officially retired,' he said. 'Once you're a teacher or an educator, it's always with you.'
While at Riverdale, Grove helped maintain the school's 'exceptional' rating from the Oregon Department of Education, improved mathematics and technology offerings and hired many great teachers, Hagerman said.
'He's well liked and respected by the staff and community and he'll be very much missed,' Hagerman said. 'I think people are surprised and dealing with the shock of this announcement right now.'
Grove said he made a lot of friends and personal relationships at Riverdale that will last a lifetime, and he always appreciated the high level of parent involvement.
'I have really enjoyed the student population here,' he added. 'It's cool to be smart at Riverdale and the kids are such eager learners, very talented, bright and very respectful. I can't say enough how well they do to exemplify what a quality school this is.'
A father of five, including two adopted children, Grove looks forward to traveling to India and Ethiopia in the coming year. He's also interested in volunteering or working part-time in some capacity of education.
'There's new adventures out there,' said Grove, who lives in Brush Prairie, Wash., with his wife, Debbie. 'I'll definitely keep connected to education. It's in my blood, and it's who I am.'
District officials are now seeking a qualified candidate to fill the vacancy. Hagerman began posting job listings Tuesday and hopes to have a new principal chosen by mid-May.
An open community forum will be held on April 3 to allow administrators, staff and parents to discuss the selection process.
'We'll cast our net as far as we're able to regionally, if not nationally,' Hagerman said. 'It's a huge community process.'