Blake follows grads leaving Mainland

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LINWOOD – As Mainland Regional High School Principal Robert Blake bid the Class of 2011 adieu at graduation last week, his speech to the crowd served a dual purpose – not only were the 380 seniors in the class preparing to leave Mainland to pursue their dreams, but Blake, too, was ready to move on.

“I certainly hope you will always feel proud to be a Mustang,” Blake told the students. “I know I truly will.”

On Friday, July 1, Blake will leave Mainland to take a job as superintendent of the Pinelands Regional School District in Ocean County.

“It is hard for me to leave, but I am excited about the new opportunity that I have,” Blake said Tuesday, June 28. “We have an exceptional high school here that I’m proud to have been involved with and glad to be a community member of, and I wish them the best moving forward.”

While Blake will no longer work at Mainland, his ties to the Mustangs will remain strong. His daughter Victoria was among those graduating last week, and his daughter Elizabeth will be a sophomore at Mainland next year.

“I still will be a parent of a Mainland student, so I’m not totally leaving,” he said.

Blake, 49, moved from Florida in 2001 to take the principal position at Mainland.

After graduating from Miami University of Ohio twice, earning his bachelor’s degree in botany and his master’s degree in teaching secondary science, Blake began his education career as a teacher in North Carolina. He later taught in Florida, earned his doctorate in education at the University of Central Florida, and eventually worked his way up from classroom instructor to assistant principal before coming to New Jersey to take the job at Mainland.

Blake said he had always wanted to serve as a superintendent someday.

“Once I got my doctorate and moved up here, I had a goal of becoming a superintendent,” he said. “This worked out to be a good opportunity for me.”

Blake said he will leave Mainland with many fond memories.

“I’ve really enjoyed my 10 years here,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure.”

Taking Blake’s place as the head honcho at the high school on Friday will be Assistant Principal Mark Marrone, who joined Mainland three and a half years ago.

“I’m excited,” Marrone said Tuesday. “The kids here are great, the teachers are great, and the community is great.”

Marrone, 35, was born and raised in Absecon and makes his home in Northfield.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in historical studies from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Seton Hall University. He is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Seton Hall.

Before becoming an assistant principal at Mainland, Marrone taught social studies at Egg Harbor Township High School, and later served as the director of the Atlantic County Alternative High School in Mays Landing.

Marrone is currently the supervisor of mathematics at Mainland – although he expects to relinquish that position when he becomes principal – and he has also served as supervisor of social studies. He is eager to take on his next role at Mainland.

“I’m excited and looking forward to the future, and the potential of what we’re going to be able to do in the next couple years,” Marrone said. “Getting the community involved in the school and the students involved in the community is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Although Blake will no longer run Mainland Regional High School come Friday, his influence on the school will linger thanks to the role he played in mentoring Marrone and the rest of the Mainland staff over the past few years.

“I’d like to thank Dr. Blake,” Marrone said. “Without him, I don’t know if I’d be fully prepared for the job that I’m going to be taking.”






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