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For the week of May 10 through May 16, 2000

Much-admired Hailey Elementary School principal retiring

Express Staff Writer

Hailey Elementary Principal Ellen MorricalEllen Morrical says she has been having "separation anxiety" because she plans to leave school after being in it for more than 50 years.

Morrical is set to retire this June as the long-running, much-loved principal of Hailey Elementary School. By then, she will have reached her 60th birthday. Incredibly, she has been either a student, a teacher or an administrator since age five.

During a pre-retirement interview last week, Morrical gave a run-down of her long history in education. At Hailey, where she has spent most of her career, she has worked as an educator since 1974.

For years, Morrical said, she has been having excited and unexpected reunions with former students who have grown up and then come back to enroll their own children at Hailey Elementary.

"This is terrible. All kinds of people walk through here and say, ‘You’re still here?’" Morrical said in her persistently ironic style.

"It’s time to play," she added.

Still, Morrical insists that teaching in the Wood River Valley is the best employment a person could wish for.

"I’ve never become tired of the job, because the kids are great," she said. True, they mature faster now than they once did—"they know things I didn’t know until college"—but they’re good kids, still, she said.

Born in 1940 in New Jersey, Morrical spent her childhood in St. Louis, Mo.

She came to Idaho—to ski, she said—by way of Sunnyvale, Calif., where she taught for five years.

At age 29, she was teaching partially sighted students in Gooding, and skiing.

In her early 30s, she trained nascent teachers for the Teachers’ Corps. in Filer, and skied.

She moved to Hailey in 1974, when district superintendent Phil Homer hired her as a sixth-grade language arts teacher. She taught that subject until 1976, when she became principal of the school. The rest, as they say, is history, and skiing.

Now, Morrical holds airline tickets for Greece and Italy, where she plans to resume her long-lost passion for scuba diving, she said. On her return trip this fall, she’ll probably stop over in Connecticut just to watch the leaves turn color.

As an educator, she said, "You never get to see them, because you’re working that time of year."

In an imperfect world, surely no job can be as rosy as Morrical paints hers to be. There must be at least something about it she doesn’t like.

"Nope," she said, "not here. There are normal ups and downs, but this is a great place to teach, and that’s not phony baloney."


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