Papa Falcon Chooses ‘A Great Retirement’

Principal Announces Retirement

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Trudy Swegle

Principal, Clark Mershon, gives his speech as MIPA administrator of the year at J-Day on March 29.

In a surprise announcement on May 11, Papa Falcon revealed he is leaving the nest. Principal Clark Mershon is retiring after 35 years in public education, effective at the end of his contract this June.

“I will always remember that opening day, Aug. 18, 2008. The most beautiful morning, crisp, not a cloud in the sky, no wind and seeing our buses pull up for the first time,” said Mershon of the first day of school after the school was built.

On that morning, the Falcon Skydiving Team came flying in with three skydivers who not only descended, but brought an American flag, a school crest and the Falcon flag.

“Watching the excitement of our kids and capturing that moment on video and photos — that was pretty cool,” said Mershon.

Mershon said he plans to travel with his wife Karen after retiring from Missouri, and he still plans to work in education in the future. During his tenure in education, he won numerous principal and administrator of the year awards, including Missouri Interscholastic Press Association’s 2017 Administrator of the Year and 2016 Missouri School Counselor Association Administrator of the Year.

Mershon said he wanted to be a teacher since he was in fourth grade. After being raised surrounded by educators in his family, he said he knew that he was going to be an educator.

“I was in the fourth grade, and I was one of several that was called to the front for the presidential fitness award, got my patch. Mr. Brown was my P.E. teacher, and I went home that day and I said, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m going to be a teacher.’” said Mershon. “And I never blinked, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”

Mershon went on to become a P.E. teacher at Lebanon Junior High School and then administrator.

Mershon has supported the different programs in the school. From supporting the journalism program to being open to new traditions being created by the student council, many students consider him their No. 1 fan in their activity.

“He’s all about getting the students involved, and he worked really close with student council because that’s our whole goal,” said student council vice president senior Madison Keith.

STTV executive producer senior Adam Freese witnessed Mershon’s impact on the student body and the journalism programs in the past four years. Mershon sat on Freese’s panel for his Gold Medallion Exhibition his senior year.

“He really allowed journalism to do what we felt was right without question,” said Freese. “And he was just genuinely invested in what I did in high school.”

Along with students, Mershon made an impact on the faculty as well. Teaching and learning coach Jessica Hoffecker works closely with Mershon. Her job is defined by the principal’s expectations, and her work life is based around what she and Mershon believe are best for the school and how they can reach the goal for that year.

“I think that Staley is so much more than a building and a school, and I know that we will continue all these things when Mershon is gone. However, I think that he was instrumental in setting the tone for what our school is going to be,” said Hoffecker.

Mershon has made a lasting impact on students and teachers throughout his career. Many at Staley said they are going to miss him.

“It’s been the most rewarding professional experience I’ve ever had,” said Mershon. Make it a great retirement or not, the choice is mine.”