PORTLAND — After serving as a Portland High School administrator for 20 years, Christine Rockey decided it was time to focus on family.


Rockey has announced her retirement as principal at Portland High, effective June 30. Rockey, 49, has served the last 11 years as PHS principal and as the school’s assistant principal nine years before that — beginning her time at the Portland Public Schools in 2000.


Retiring was “not an easy decision,” Rockey said, adding that she had been considering it all school year. But as a mother of two children in the district, Rockey decided it was time to step away from her duties as the high school principal and attend their activities.


“The life of a high school principal is nonstop,” Rockey said.


Rockey told her staff of her decision on April 20 and informed the PHS community after that. She told families that the high school has “something great going on” and that she would miss them.


“They’ve been part of my life for 20 years,” Rockey said.


Rockey previously taught at Ionia High School and Carman-Ainsworth High School in Flint before arriving at PHS. What Rockey loved most about the job was the people, she said.


“I get to encourage and guide teachers, I get to encourage and guide students to succeed and I get to let parents know every day that everything will be OK in the end,” Rockey said. “The best part is the connections I got to make and that I could help people somehow.”


Rockey said her time at PHS is full of memories. She’ll remember the freshmen classes who arrived PHS with aspirations and dreams.


“When I can help them figure out those dreams, those are the best moments,” Rockey said.


District Superintendent William Heath said Rockey had discussed retiring throughout the school year, as she was eligible for retirement. Heath commends Rockey for making that decision and focusing on family.


“She’s had a lasting impact,” Heath said. “That’s a lot of years to be serving as a high school principal. She’ll be missed when she leaves.”


The high school principal position is posted on the PPS website. Applications are due May 15, with Heath planning to have interviews the week of May 25. The district plans for two rounds of interviews with candidates, with the hope of offering the job to a candidate before the PPS Board of Education meets in late June to approve the hire.


Heath’s hope is to have the new principal begin on July 1, but notes dates are tentative and may change due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.


The last few months of her time at PHS aren’t what Rockey envisioned, as the COVID-19 pandemic has ended in-person instruction early at the high school.


“Everything has spun upside down, but the nice thing about this is I get to learn more things before I leave,” Rockey said. “This forces me and the school community to learn new things.”


Rockey will spend some time during the summer months to travel and decide her next career move, saying she has already been doing some research. As Rockey prepares to leave PHS, she said the relationships she’s built is her biggest accomplishment.


“I will miss getting to see the people every day,” she said. “I will definitely miss the interaction with the kids, the teachers, the staff and the parents in the community as the principal. It’s a big identity.”


— Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at esasiela@sentinel-standard.com. Follow him on Twitter @SalsaEvan.