By Steve Sears
Louis Shadiack, Principal of Lincoln Elementary School since 1983, leads an office visitor to a hanging picture.
“See that,” he says with a smile, pointing to a young boy peering at the camera while surrounded by a few other children and an adult, the young boy’s teacher. “That’s me on my first day of school in 1951 (in Paterson).” He then adds with a laugh, “It took me 65 years to finish school.”
The outgoing administrator, who taught Science at Lakeside Middle School from 1971 to 1983 prior to his current position of 36 years, is retiring amid much admiration.
Consider the words of Pompton Lakes Schools Superintendent, Dr. Paul Amoroso. “Lou Shadiack is everything a great educator, principal, leader should be. For 36 years, he made sure that every child was loved and that each had an incredible elementary school experience. For 36 years, he built relationships with staff and parents based on mutual respect and a shared vision of creating a truly great school. Lou is a humble, thoughtful and caring person. He has been a gift to our community for close to 50 years.”
A special dinner in Shadiack’s honor was held on Thursday, May 9 at the Cosmopolitan in Wayne. Shadiack, speaking prior to the event, says, “It’s a reunion, actually. Retired teachers will attend. I had students who are now adults that are coming. They have busy lives, but they are coming. It has put things in perspective for me.”
“It’s a celebration with everyone together. It will be a nice farewell.”
“I have worked with Mr. Shadiack for 23 years and was a former student of his at Lakeside,” says Edward Woodcock, a Lincoln School fourth grade teacher. “The best way I could describe him is hard working, putting other people’s needs ahead of his own, humble, well respected, and the best way to describe him is a class act. He will be missed by the community, the faculty, and most of all the students. I truly never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. He deserves the best in his retirement.”
Shadiack is not resting easy in his final days at the helm. Quite the contrary. On a recent busy Tuesday morning, he fields many calls into his office phone and follows up regarding the prior day’s events with his office staff. “I am not counting the days,” he says. “I have to be true to myself and work to the end. After 36 years, it becomes a part of you.”
Helen Tardif worked with Shadiack at Lincoln before becoming Principal at nearby Lenox Elementary School. “Lou Shadiack is dedicated to Lincoln School and the students. He truly loves his job and the students love him. He is an outstanding principal and will be missed.”
Shadiack, who will be 70 in September and in retirement will spend more time with his family and do some traveling, likens his presence to that of a coach. “I am a coach,” he says, his eyes misting a bit as he looks around his office at artifacts, photos, and recognitions garnered through the years. “My job is, for now, to be the best I can be and keep the team together.” He leans in, then says. “A team that experiences success will continue to experience success.”
As Louis Shadiack departs, you know his presence will live on in Lincoln Elementary School.