Educator ends 30-year career
By JULIANNE WU
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001
SEMINOLE -- Michael Corrigan could have been a professional baseball player. Instead he became a teacher, a coach and then a school administrator.
After 30 years with Pinellas County Schools, Corrigan, 54, will retire in June from Osceola High School, where he is an assistant principal.
Although he once was approached by the Philadelphia Phillies, Corrigan's promising baseball career pretty much came to an end on May 4, 1970, when four students were killed by National Guard troops at Kent State University in Ohio, where he pitched for the baseball team.
The campus was the site of an anti-Vietnam protest.
Corrigan, then a senior and the team captain, was walking to a class that Saturday morning.
"I had to pass the ROTC building that had been burned out the night before. Then I heard shots," he said. "Our team was supposed to play Ohio State. But that was the day the kids got shot.
"I saw two of them fall, but I didn't know them. It was bedlam. We all panicked and ran."
Because of the tragedy, Corrigan's baseball game was canceled, as was the rest of season.
Corrigan pursued a career in teaching and coaching. He came to Pinellas County in 1971.
For 10 years, he taught anatomy, physics and biology at Lakewood High School while coaching the school's baseball, football and basketball teams.
He first came to Osceola in 1981, when the school opened, teaching biology and marine biology and serving as baseball coach.
In 1985, Corrigan returned to Lakewood as the assistant principal. In 1990, he became Osceola's assistant principal and athletic director.
A typical morning for Corrigan starts with the handling of any disciplinary problems, followed by lunchroom duty. He is one of three Osceola assistant principals with responsibility for students in grades 9-11, divided alphabetically into thirds. A fourth assistant principal handles seniors.
Disciplinary problems, Corrigan said, can include anything from being tardy to class disruptions and the occasional hallway fight and can result in temporary suspensions, Saturday school sessions or other measures. The morning he was interviewed, Corrigan and two other assistant principals had just resolved a minor hallway scuffle.
"An assistant principal has to be the judge and jury, sometimes," he said. "The most important thing is to be fair and consistent with the kids. At the same time, we have to uphold the school's code of conduct."
Corrigan's other duties as the school's athletic director take about 10 percent of his time and include drawing up budgets, recruiting coaches, ordering the buses and overseeing sporting and club activities.
Of the hundreds of students Corrigan has taught, he knows of at least 10 who now are teachers in the Pinellas County School system.
Although Osceola teacher Linda Stachowicz didn't have him as a teacher, she was a senior when Corrigan first went to Lakewood.
"I've known him for 30 years . . . we opened Osceola High School together," Stachowicz said. "He is a great guy and really tries to do the right things for the kids."
Corrigan and his wife, Sandy, a bookkeeper and secretary at Seminole Vocational Educational Center, live in Seminole. They have two sons: Steve, an airline mechanic in Dallas, and Michael, a biologist in Crawfordville.
"I will miss the relationships I have with colleagues," Corrigan said. "And working with Mr. Smith (Osceola principal Doug Smith) is like dying and going to heaven. He has a wonderful management style."
Assistant principal Brad Finkbiner said he will especially miss Corrigan.
"Mike has been a wonderful mentor to me. I came out of a classroom this year and he took me under his wing," Finkbiner said. "We have known each other for 10 years. He's a good teacher and a good friend."
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