LAHS principal prepares to call it a career

-A A +A

Assistant Principal Sandy Warnock named interim principal

By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos High School Principal Grace Brown announced her retirement during a gathering of high school staff Tuesday after school.

“But don’t count me gone just yet, I will be working up to my last day,” Brown said.

This morning Brown explained that when she checked on her retirement status in July she discovered she was actually losing money every day that she worked and realized her income would be higher if she retired. In sharing the news of her retirement, Brown said she’s really enjoyed her years here and that she is proud to have worked with such “top notch” people.

“I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead such a wonderful school,” she said. Brown’s announcement was met with more than a few tears and the long, loud applause of an appreciative staff, according to a news release Wednesday.

Many staff members lingered well after Tuesday’s announcement to share stories and good wishes with Brown.

Assistant Superintendent Kate Thomas spoke this morning about Brown and the outstanding job she has done in her role as principal.

“I’ve learned a lot from Grace in the short time I’ve known her. I’ve really appreciated her leadership, especially her opening her door to everyone. That’s been a real gift to the high school,” Thomas said.

County Councilor and longtime youth advocate Sharon Stover has worked closely with Brown during the last couple of years and while she wished Brown well in her retirement, she said she hates to see her go.

“I’ve worked with Grace on lots of youth issues including Los Alamos Youth Leadership and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. She was always coming up with new programs to help kids succeed,” Stover said. “She works with kids on an individual basis and last year she helped five kids graduate. She really has the students’ best interest at heart. She has such a great smile that would make her eyes twinkle. While we’re sure going to miss her, we do hope she has a wonderful retirement.”  

Stover spoke of how Brown embraced the community from the moment she arrived here on July 5, 2007. Brown rose from a pool of 10 applicants and three finalists to win the top position at LAHS when Lynne Saccaro retired.  

Former Superintendent James Anderson described Brown at the time as having a great sense of humor. He said Brown was the overwhelming choice by everyone involved in the selection process, including himself.

Police Chief Wayne Torpy also is a strong youth advocate who was instrumental in bringing the skate park, to downtown Los Alamos. He has worked with Brown on a number of youth initiatives and during an interview Wednesday, he commended Brown for her contributions to Los Alamos youth.

“It’s been a real pleasure having her here at the high school and in the community. One of the things I liked most about Grace was that she was not just active at the high school but she was involved in other programs throughout the community that related to youth,” Torpy said. “Grace has always been willing to work through issues to find solutions and we’ve really appreciated her positive attitude.”

Brown came to LAHS from Cibola High School in Albuquerque where she was in charge of 3,200 students and 300 staff. LAHS had some 1,200 students and 90 staff when she began her job as principal. Brown received an annual starting salary of $109,000.

Sandy Warnock has been named Interim principal beginning Jan. 1 through the remainder of the current school year.

Warnock has worked at LAHS for 25 years as both a special education teacher and administrator. She is currently the assistant principal.

Warnock and her husband, Phil, raised their children in Los Alamos. In her acceptance speech to the staff Tuesday, Warnock shared excitement for her new responsibility and promised to continue to build on Los Alamos’ legacy of high expectations for students and commitment to academic excellence.