Welsh started as a teacher, and he has never strayed too far from that essential role. I've seen plenty of administrators in my time that had no touch with kids and, as we have a habit of doing in my profession, were elevated to administrative positions. But Kevin doesn't fit that description. He's a great teacher, and for that has my utmost respect.
His finest moment as an educator occurred about four years ago during our annual "drug awareness week." In front of the entire student body, he announced that he was an alcoholic. After telling the kids about the wreckage it caused in his life, he added proudly that he had been sober for 23 years.
That got him a sustained and well-deserved standing ovation from students, teachers and parents in attendance. We could all sense that this must have been difficult to admit for someone in his position, but we could also clearly see the pure motive behind this revelation.
Our unconventional principal had found a teachable moment and seized on it beautifully. There was a silence in the auditorium that we rarely hear when it is filled with teenagers.
Kids don't usually listen to adults when the subject is substance abuse. The ones who don't need any lecturing don't always appreciate it, and the ones who do need it turn a deaf ear to it. On this day and in this setting, everybody was listening. We teachers were never prouder of our principal, and the students heard some hard truth from someone who had already earned their respect.
At times I've disagreed with both these men, but on the occasion of their retirement and in light of their many years of service to education, I think it only right that we take the full measure of their careers. I salute them as educators and wish them well in their retirement.