I’m going to miss Marc Malone.
That’s what I realized last week, as I drove up to the Oakdale School Farm in pursuit of our final interview.
It’s not very often that I feel compelled to take a front page story and expand it to a column topic, but this is one of those times.
Maybe it’s because we shared a common passion: students. We also speak the same language – direct, honest and transparent. That’s not for everyone and we both get that. Maybe it was his boots on the ground approach to his role as superintendent, his no nonsense get out in the field and out of the office leadership.
This list could go on.
The bottom line to all of this is quite simple and has already been stated; I’ll miss Malone.
When we met last week, I had just returned from the airport where my children had departed for a summer visit with their father. I had also just delivered some baby keepsakes to our storage unit and well, emotions were pretty high.
As I arrived on the school farm, I quickly warned Malone, I might get choked up. He shared the same and within minutes that emotion surfaced for him. That’s the beauty of doing what you love and having it supported by those whom love you. That became evident by the superintendent who paved his path with a focus and drive of grit.
We talked about a lot of things and as we did I couldn’t help but notice the thriving redwood trees on the farm that Malone had summoned me to photograph the planting of several years back.
That’s another thing I love about working with Malone, he never forgot me. During his tenure, he never forgot the people of the paper and how committed we were to covering the district as the district was to its students.
I still remember when the world shut down to COVID, receiving the e-mail from Malone, informing me I still had a place as “the media” within the Tech Center for the school board meetings.
Heck, in my own personal tenure, I’ve spent so much time at the DO (District Office), that when my daughter was ten she asked why I didn’t get summers off like all our teacher friends. It made me chuckle, as well as being eye-opening. From the mouths of babes, right? While she knew her mommy worked for the paper, she also knew she spent a lot of her time within OJUSD.
That’s another reason I’ll miss Malone.
We shared a lot of “off the record” conversation. As journalists, those are the conversations I’m always most grateful for. They are the times the individual shows their trust in you and in return you get to know the person versus the professional. Those chats always increased my faith in Malone as our district leader.
In my 20 years with the paper, I’ve sat in the office of a few superintendents, each very different and all an asset in their own way. Malone, however, was one I would describe as never too busy.
While professionally I know otherwise, the truth of the matter is it was not uncommon for me to open my email on a Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. and find an e-mail from Malone. Most were a kind form of some sort of kudos, but not always.
There are times in this job when what you report doesn’t always serve the person you are writing about in a positive light, hard news is fact driven. Even in those times, Malone would pen via e-mail, “thank you for maintaining a professional and fair/unbiased approach when presenting the facts.” That meant a lot.
So now his office his packed, his successor named and his plans for summer and his next chapter made. While I’m genuinely happy for him, it’s a bittersweet moment from my newsroom desk.
So, here’s to your future my friend. Your job was not an easy one and in one short decade, both you and the team you led have left an impressionable impact on our district. Oh sure, there will always be critics and haters; we both know that. But as the girl who sat on the other side of that desk, recorder on and questions ready, I want to thank you for making this job both easy and informed. You have indeed left your mark and I am grateful to have been a part of it. Godspeed.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.