Melvin Retires After 32 (Plus 9) Years


Greg Melvin

Mauricio Lemus-Vargas, Staff Writer

Greg Melvin retired in August after spending 41 years of his life in the Centennial District; 9 as a student and 32 in various teaching positions. 

“I worked part time through high school and college at Wally’s Thriftway on 162nd and Division. The principal at Harold Oliver came through to my work and offered me a job. [He] told me to come in for an interview as a 5th grade teacher and the next day I was a 5th grade teacher,” said Melvin in a nostalgic manner. He had just obtained his license to teach not long before he was offered the position.

What was it like to be a student at Centennial then transition to being a teacher?  “It was interesting.. A lot of these people I was working with were teachers I had when I was a younger kid; getting over the process of calling them Mr. and Mrs. to becoming colleagues was weird,” Melvin said.   “Knowing them benefitted me a lot and they helped me out throughout my early years.”

Melvin’s kids Derek (2014), Cole (2018) and Christina (2020) also graduated from Centennial.  The connection to the community is significant.

“The thing about my job is you never knew what was gonna happen; you could come to school and the funniest, crazy things happen,” said Melvin. “The best memory about my job is the things that would spur me up on a daily basis. As a Dean of Students you are there to enforce school rules, handle referrals and bad behavior. My greatest memories are going to graduation and seeing students that I know I helped walk across that stage. They struggled during their freshman, sophomore, and junior years but with help of their classmates and staff, they did it. They had an opportunity to succeed in life after graduating high school,” he adds.

“When I grew up in the Centennial district, it was more of a suburban, country type atmosphere. Now we’ve become a city type school. Centennial has become much more diverse. We didn’t have time restraints for testing (early in my career) and we’re a lot more focused on test scores now. We should give these kids time to succeed as a person rather than being worried about a nationwide test score,” he said. “There was more time to build relationships (with students) than we do today. I personally think it’s important to get back to that.”

 “I did my best to build relations with students no matter what their first or second opinion about me was. If they didn’t like me I could find help from someone else to build that relationship,” he said.

“Retirement hit me quickly.  I didn’t expect to retire. Normally people have their year planned out, I was under pressure to get paperwork done”, he stated, referring to the District Office’s August retirement incentive.

So now what is he doing?  Well, he may not be at CHS any longer, but he’s still working.   “I don’t have a lot of pressure at my new job, I load computer databases into trucks and I love it. I drive up 150 miles up the Columbia Gorge. I workout on a daily basis and I’m trying to work on my golf game. I’m still thinking about my daily retirement routine. I’m not ready to fully retire, I’m physically still in shape, I like my part time job because I get to sweat and be physically active three days a week. My parents are still alive and well so I get to visit them in Priest Lake, Idaho during times of year like fall when I couldn’t before (due to my job),” adds Melvin.

“I had a great career in the district. I have great memories of the students, parents, staff and the community. My job has had a lot of laughs and I would like to thank the students and staff throughout my support throughout my 32 years. I feel very happy that I am retired and looking for a different sort of future,” says Melvin. 

Many staff members commented on Melvin’s career and retirement:

“Only Greg’s tenure at Centennial School District as a student, teacher and Dean exceeds his greatness as a long time colleague at CHS,” said Assistant Principal Zach Ramberg.  “I appreciated that Greg always had a positive outlook for students’ ability to find success, here or beyond CHS. There was almost always an arrangement that could be made or a new way to approach a given challenge at the student level. That, combined with his ability to always smile and keep it light-hearted during our school days and events together is what I will miss the very most.”

 Teacher Kasey Church  said, “One of my favorite things [to do] was going into Greg’s office, shutting the door, and laughing with him. I’d usually ask about some quote he had on his white board in his office that was related to some story he thought was funny.  He would add quotes throughout the year and start over the next. He always had the inside scoop. We would crack each other up. He could tell you the craziest things kids said and did. Laughing with Greg always put me in a good mood. I think we both appreciated each other’s bawdy humor.”

“Greg Melvin was a student in the Centennial School District from third grade through graduating high school. Then he worked here for 32 years, first in the grade schools then at the high school. That’s 41 years of service to this district and this community,” said teacher Rob Havrilla.  “He worked with students and families to try to get students back on track. I’ve had so many students who were mad at him when he was holding them accountable and talking to their families, later expressing how much they respected him. He was an invaluable support to this school to a degree that is not understood by those who don’t spend every day here. He has incredible energy.”

“Greg Melvin embodies the term “tough love.,” said counselor Kayci Emry.  “He had one of the most difficult jobs at CHS; a job that made it easy for students to resent him or dislike him without really knowing him. But behind the scenes, he was able to balance discipline with genuine concern for students. He is incredibly respected and will be truly missed by the rest of the staff. Students who saw beyond Melvin’s tough exterior will know that we have lost a crucial member of our CHS community.”