September 9, 2009
McGraw principal at home in school community
Educator has returned to school he graduated from after leaving principal job to sell cars
McGRAW — Chaos swirled around Mark Dimorier this morning, the first day of classes at McGraw Junior-Senior High School, and he loved it.
The school’s principal began his second year back at the helm — after leaving education for four years — by handing out schedules to students with last names beginning with H to O.
He greeted older students by name and kidded them about being taller and seniors now, asking how their summer was.
“I know them and I knew most of their parents,” he said. “You can give out schedules this way in a small school. They got their schedules over the summer but this is the final version.”
Schools in the Cortland region began classes today, except for DeRuyter Central, which started one week ago.
Dimorier, 38, looked right at home this morning. He graduated from McGraw in 1989, taught physical education, served as principal, then left for four years to sell used cars. He returned a year ago because he missed being an educator in the community where he grew up.
Tall and calm, Dimorier pulled schedules on small sheets of paper from a metal box on a cafeteria table. The crowd grew to about 80 students, lined up into the hall, after buses arrived at 7:55 a.m.
The students were a mix of all six grades, with the seventh-graders looking anxious, uncertain, excited.
“I can always tell the seventh-graders,” Dimorier said. “After I’m done here, I’ll go to the junior high end of the building to help them with their lockers. They always have a tough time getting their combination locks right.”
Dimorier remembers being a jock in high school, playing basketball and baseball, devoting his off-hours to auto racing — he worked in the pit crew for his older brother, Mike, who raced dirt modified.
Cars have mattered a great deal in Dimorier’s life. His two daughters, Kailee, 13, and Madison, 11, race microds.
His wife, Donna, owns Images Salon in the village.
Dimorier also admits to being an excellent student who belonged to National Honor Society.
The youngest of three children, he grew up on the McGraw-Marathon Road, where he lives now. Dave Bordwell, who is now the board of education president, was a neighbor.
Matt Tracy, a new school board member, was a classmate and friend.
His mother, Kay, was a cook at the school cafeteria. His late father, Larry, worked for Cooper Tools.
Dimorier did not go to college for two years after graduating, because he was unsure what he wanted to do. He sold used cars for a Cortland dealership, Upstate Auto Center.
Then he studied physical education at SUNY Cortland, because he loved athletics. He was lucky enough, in his mind, to be hired in 1995 as a high school physical education teacher at McGraw.
Later, he did an administrative internship with the principal, then became junior-senior high principal in the summer of 2001. He was where he wanted to be.
But Dimorier left three years later and spent four years as sales manager at Upstate Auto.
He was not unhappy. He did not want to make more money.
“I wanted to try a different career, and the opportunity was there,” he said.
The school had two principals in three years, then an interim principal for one year while the district looked for a new principal for 2008-09.
Dimorier decided to return to his old job.
“I missed education, missed the kids, missed working with the teachers,” he said. “I was fortunate. I’m very comfortable here. I know most of the parents and the community. The staff is great. I work well with Maria Fragnoli-Ryan (the superintendent of schools). It’s a nice place to work.”
The school has 40 to 50 students in each grade.
Dimorier had a faculty meeting Tuesday morning, then checked on problems in the school. This morning, he was ready for students who were lacking paperwork for school, new students showing up, any number of things.
“Every day is not like the day before,” Dimorier said. “That’s what I like.”
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