Carroll County's assistant superintendent for instruction, Dorothy "Dottie" Mangle, will retire this summer after 30 years as a teacher and administrator in county schools.
Her retirement will end a five-decades-long string of first days of school for Mangle, who has been "going to school full time" since her mother signed her up for preschool at age 3.
"I will have to find something to do the first day of school this year because when I see those yellow school buses on the road, I'm sure I'll be inclined to follow them somewhere, anywhere, to whatever school they're going to," the 52-year-old said in jest. "Maybe one of my colleagues will invite me to visit, or maybe I'll have to hang out at the bus stop."
As news of Friday's retirement announcement spreads and the date to pack her office nears, Mangle said she is discouraging friends and colleagues from thinking of this as her professional funeral. Rather, she said, views retirement as an opportunity to explore and try riskier ventures with the comfort of retirement income to back her up.
She is considering repeating a cross-country trip she and her husband, Liberty High School math teacher Howard Mangle, made in July 1976 and again with their three children in 1992. She wants to visit Alaska and the only two other U.S. states in which she has not set foot. And she knows more work lies in store, whether it's working with grants and mentorships or supporting reconstituted schools.
"I have not died," Mangle said. "It is not necessary to have a funeral. It is not necessary or appropriate to have some kind of retirement party as if I'm going to retreat to my home and read and knit and work in my garden because this is not the way it's going to be. I certainly cannot go from working 60 hours a week to working no hours a week. It's just a matter of taking some time to decide what opportunity I seize upon."
The daughter of a teacher and a career Army man, Mangle quickly learned the value of education.
"I'm unique in that my mother taught for 42 years and enrolled me in preschool day care at a very young age," Mangle said. "I've just continued."
Even as a high school student, Mangle attended summer school "because I wanted to get in all the accelerated courses." She continued summer classes in college and started graduate courses at Indiana University of Pennsylvania two weeks after graduating from Lock Haven College in Lock Haven, Pa. (She earned her second master's degree in 1982 from Western Maryland College.)
Except for her first year after graduate school - teaching third grade in Williamsport, Pa., in 1970 - Mangle has spent her career in Carroll County schools. She started as a math teacher at Sykesville Middle School in 1971 and became an assistant principal at Freedom Elementary in 1974. She was promoted to principal there two years later.
In 1985, Mangle became supervisor of elementary schools. Her title and job were elevated to director of elementary schools in 1987 when R. Edward Shilling became superintendent.
Her promotion in August 1998 to assistant superintendent of instruction marked the first time a woman had entered the top tier of Carroll school administration - an accomplishment she summed up at the time by quoting Shakespeare, saying, "Wonderful, wonderful, and then again, wonderful."
Colleagues say Mangle's vast experience has been a bottomless resource for those seeking advice and help troubleshooting a problem at a particular school.
"She is one of the rare individuals who is so multidimensional," said Margaret Pfaff, who has worked with Mangle for 15 years as a teacher, principal and now an elementary education supervisor. "Her level of understanding runs so deep on anything and everything in education. She's always reading and she keeps very current with everything educational - pedagogy, curriculum, you name it.
"She is going to be terribly, terribly missed," Pfaff added. "She has been so much a part of the system for so long that people depend on her for many things, both personal and professional."