PIEDMONT -- Piedmont Middle School Principal Jeanne Donovan is retiring after seven years on the job and jokes that her first priority after retiring is to catch up on sleep.

"This job is 24/7," she said.

She said her real reason for retiring is to spend more time with family, particularly her two young granddaughters, one of whom lives out of state.

"I just spent spring break with my 2-year-old granddaughter in Iowa," said Donovan, whose last day on the job will be June 28. "It was so hard to leave her."

Donovan, who has been a teacher and principal in East Bay schools for 32 years, is looking forward to retirement for other reasons, too.

"There are so many things I want to do, there won't be enough time to do them all," Donovan said.

"I want to do a bike ride through Europe with my husband and RV across the country," said Donovan, who was born and raised in Honolulu and has the travel bug. "There are also silly things I'd like to do like learn to play the ukulele and relearn how to tap dance."

Donovan said she came to Piedmont Middle from her job as principal at Oakley Middle School because of the Piedmont school district's reputation.

"I heard so much about how the community values education and makes it a priority," Donovan said. "It's obvious in how they maintain programs despite budget cuts."

She loves working with middle school kids.

"You have to love these kids at this age," Donovan said. "They are so quirky. They are going through so many hormonal changes that they are walking contradictions. They want to be independent yet also want meaningful support from adults. The great thing is how they are so passionate about changing the world for the better."

Donovan said the most memorable milestone in her educational career was implementing block scheduling at Piedmont Middle. It took more than two years of intensive talks with stakeholders to accomplish.

"The heart of the experience was the necessary collaboration between teachers, parents and the administration," Donovan said. "Block scheduling gives teachers more opportunity to provide in-depth teaching of the curriculum."

Donovan said she has said farewell to many students going on to high school.

"I tell them, I want them to 'own' their high school years," she said. "They are the only ones who can make it memorable. I tell them, never compromise until they've done everything they can to reach their dream."

Since Donovan has been principal, STAR test scores have gone up every year at Piedmont Middle, but she credits the teachers.

"I attribute it all to teachers and staff," she said. "Teachers here care about their students and are passionate about what they teach. They understand their role in the students' lives and work collaboratively for the best of the students."

Donovan said the school is a great place to work.

"We're one big family. Like any family, we have disagreements, but we love each other enough to work it out," she said.

She said Piedmont Middle would not be the place it is without the support of the parent community.

"They are always right there to support us in any way," Donovan said. "They are always on our side to implement our vision and goals for PMS."

Donovan feels fortunate to have served in Piedmont schools for seven years.

"I am so glad that Piedmont has been part of my educational journey," says Donovan. "My passion is to be with kids and it's a very hard decision to retire."

Donovan thanks the community for its support of schools and her tenure.

"I want to thank the community for all its support and commitment to me," Donovan said. "It's a gift."

School board president Rick Raushenbush said Donovan has created a welcoming climate for Piedmont Middle students, both on a personal and academic level.

"I greatly appreciate Jeanne's contributions to the district's students and parents during her time at Piedmont Middle School," Raushenbush said. "We wish her the best."

---