WESTFIELD, NJ — Roosevelt Intermediate School will say goodbye to Principal Stewart Carey at the end of the school year, following 48 years in the Westfield school system.

Carey came to Westfield from Charlottesville, VA, in 1969, when he was hired as a physical education teacher at Edison Intermediate School. Carey taught physical education at both Edison and Westfield High School until 1992, when he entered an administrative position.

“I had three options when I graduated high school,” Carey said. “I decided not to enter journalism because as I looked around in the 60’s, I never saw an African-American reporter. I thought about divinity school, but that wasn’t a good idea. But I had two teachers in school, Coach Jones and Coach Green, who really had an impact on me. I wanted to have that same kind of impact on kids.”

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In 1996, Carey was offered the position of assistant principal at Edison Intermediate School. He remained in that position until 2004, when he planned to retire and move to Georgia. However, he was asked to work as principal at Roosevelt Intermediate School for one year, and he stayed there ever since.

“I have no regrets,” Carey said. “If I could do it all over again, I’d come right back to Westfield.”

During his retirement, Carey hopes to work with young administrators who are planning to further themselves in education. He also looks forward to visiting his second home in Georgia and traveling to the Caribbean.

When asked what he’ll miss the most, Carey immediately said it was the kids.

“I have kids who still come to visit me, but they’re not kids,” Carey said. “They’re 61 years old.”

He also said he’ll miss the staff, which he described as “tremendously dedicated.”

Carey’s office is full of photos of his staff, his students and artwork the students have created for him. He has framed photos of school plays and a trip with students and staff to his church, where he took them for Black History Month.

“I just tried to be myself,” Carey said. “I think being myself has allowed me to be successful. My parents always say, ‘Wherever you go, make sure it’s a better place that you leave it.’ And that’s what I’ve tried to do since the day I came to Westfield.”

When asked what advice he would give to the next principal, Carey said he only has one philosophy in his career.

“When I make a decision, I’m going to do what’s best for the kids,” he said. “To me, that’s the only way.”