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OJUSD’s Malone Ready To Embrace Next Chapter
Standing among 13 acres of almonds at the Oakdale School Farm, Marc Malone shared it is one of many proud accomplishments in his 35 years of service with the Oakdale Joint Unified School District, including the last 10 as superintendent. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Marc Malone won’t be seen sweeping the front sidewalk of the district office daily any longer.

Days are going to start looking a lot different for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent. After 35 years of serving the district in some capacity, Malone has retired. While his official last day with the district won’t be until the end of this month, his desk has been packed, his office cleared and plans for rest and relaxation made.

The Oakdale High School Class of 1980 graduate shared he’s an “Eastern Sierra Guy” and loves the 395 corridor.

“I’m going to relax for just a bit, breathe some good mountain air and enjoy that 395 stretch and catch some trout,” Malone shared.

During his tenure with Oakdale Joint Unified, Malone served as a science teacher at Oakdale High School, coached Mustang football, as well as baseball; served as Vice Principal at both Oakdale Junior High and Oakdale High and spent a few years in Human Resources at the District Office before being appointed as the Superintendent of Schools 10 years ago.

“Starting my administrative career I was under what I consider the tutelage of an outstanding principal and that’s Principal Rick Jones,” Malone said of his career transition. “Just an outstanding student advocate. For me, that was a real marriage, because I was leaving running a football program. Then to serve under him at the VP level both at the junior high and the high school with a man who was a student advocate, spoke after my heart.”

The district veteran also makes note of former Superintendent Fred Rich for bringing him into the District Office for the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources position 13 years ago.

“For him to take a chance on me, I wasn’t going to let him down,” he said of Rich.

With three years of District Office experience under his belt, Malone made the decision to throw his name in the hat for the Superintendent position.

“I had some things that I knew we needed to do for kids and that meshed with what the board’s expectation was with those four pillars and then let’s go. We’re only limited by how hard we want to work,” he offered, “and I think we proved over ten years that we worked pretty hard.”

The four pillars the board presented, Malone shared, were: academics, activity, athletics and facilities.

“They wanted those four pillars, in no uncertain terms, they wanted those addressed,” he said of the board’s challenge to him in his new role as superintendent.

Malone quickly set out to do that. In so doing the school farm became an opportunity for getting two things at one time: a facility and an education opportunity.

Under Malone’s leadership, the district was able to take 26 acres which was once being farmed by a local farmer and turn it into an educational opportunity for students.

“It created a level playing field for all kids,” he said of the 26 acre parcel on North Crane Road.

The facility was drawn up by an architect and modeled after the MJC School farm roughly six years ago. Undoubtedly it is one of the biggest projects Malone leaves behind from his tenure.

“Certainly one that I’m proud of,” Malone said of the developed 26 acres.

“With trying to address all of the issues with our facilities, it created parity,” he said of the board’s optimum goal. “There wasn’t this idea that you go to this school and it’s better than another. Now we can truly say from a facilities standpoint not one is better than the other.”

Recalling his own years as an OJUSD student, Malone shared a career in education wasn’t necessarily on the radar. Freshman year, however, and an encounter with John Quaccia was one which left an impression on Malone.

“His demeanor, his professionalism, his passion, his desire to win, his desire to compete,” Malone said of what impressed him when meeting Quaccia. “So as a freshman that was just a true larger than life figure.”

Following completion of his education at OHS, Malone was approached by former Mustang football coach Dale Clipper and offered a coaching opportunity.

“Being around those guys then, in that coaching environment really began to kind of light the fire. It just kind of went from there,” he said of his career aspirations in education.

“I’m a grinder by nature. I had set some really clear goals as a superintendent,” Malone said of the past decade. “When we were able to return kids back to school and I could see we were going to make that happen … I thought, okay man, you have fought every battle. It’s 35 years, you’ve checked the box, you got kids back where you said they need to be. So at that point I just really felt a sense of completion and ready for the next chapter.”

As this chapter closes, however, Malone finds himself with some mixed emotions.

“Thirty-five years of my life has been dedicated to this place,” he said. “I’ve still got some gas in the tank here to do what the next chapter is.”

And, he admitted, there have been a lot of people helping make it a successful chapter.

“A lot of my life …” Malone said, pausing for a moment as emotion quickly finds its way to his throat. “Not only was it a lot of my life, but a lot … my wife gave up a lot, my kids gave up a lot. This was a major effort within our family.”

As Malone goes out, he will be replaced by current Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources, Dr. David Kline. A choice he shared he feels will be good for the students as well as the district as a whole.

His advice for Kline, simple.

“It’s easy to say, harder to do. Enjoy the victories when they come, so you really can embrace those victories,” Malone stated. “There’s going to be enough difficulty that comes. If you don’t embrace those victories then the job becomes weary.”

A self-described windshield, not rearview mirror guy, Malone has begun to look forward to what’s to come. More time for family, his wife, three grown children, their spouses and two grandchildren. Also included in the next chapter will be a family real estate venture with his wife and middle daughter.

“I’m excited about the next endeavor. My wife has just been a tremendous support,” he said. “There’s been a price to pay for her to support my career and for my kids as well.”