Sean Mailey was working as a principal at a private school in Albani when he looked to see if any schools back home in Oregon had any administrative jobs available.
When Mailey saw that Milwaukie High School had an opening for an athletic director and assistant principal, he almost fell out of his chair.
"I couldn't believe it was coming open," he said.
Mailey applied for the job and got it, taking over for Aaron Moreno, who stepped down after two years as Milwaukie's AD to become an assistant principal at Rock Creek Middle School in Happy Valley.
Mailey's first day on his new job was July 17, working from one of the modular buildings while construction continues on the high school's multimillion-dollar renovation.
"Milwaukie is poised for incredible growth in the coming years as our building reopens and our football field comes back on line," Mailey said. "The potential for what's going to happen here is amazing."
Mailey, 40, is a 1997 graduate of Hillsboro High School where he lettered in soccer and alpine ski racing. He then graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in political science and history in 2001, and later earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Pacific University in 2004.
His first teaching job was at Southridge High School where he worked for two years (2003-05) as a special education instructor and eight years (2005-13) as a history and sociology teacher. He also was the head coach of Southridge's alpine ski racing team and help lead the Skyhawks to four Metro League titles with the girls winning in 2005, 2007, and 2009, and the boys winning in 2009.
Mailey changed jobs before the 2013-14 school year and started teaching history, government, and economics at the Leadership & Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School in Northwest Portland. He saw the move as an opportunity to "reconnect with my vision and what I wanted to do with education by helping kids in the city."
Sadly, the school closed due to financial instability.
In 2014-15, Mailey moved the Lincoln High School in downtown Portland where he taught social studies for one year while also working as an administrative intern.
The next year, he became a full-time administrator when he was named to replaced Cameron Neal as Lincoln's vice principal.
He did that for three years and then decided to make another job move, this time moving with his wife, Amanda, and their two children — son Jackson and daughter Isabel — to Tirana, Albania, where he was a high school principal.
That job lasted 11 1/2 months.
"Albania is a lovely place to visit," Mailey said. "If you ever decide to go on a vacation, I suggest everybody give it a shot. But to have a wife and two kids living there day to day … it was fine, but we all missed home and missed family and missed Portland.
"I joke with my friends how that was my mid-life crisis, trying to do the international thing and then figuring out that's not for me. I've always been a public school educator, so working at a private school just kind of ate at my soul."
Maroon and gold
Mailey applied for jobs at other schools in and around Portland but said the opportunity to join the staff at Milwaukie at a time when Jackson, 12, is heading into seventh grade, and Isabel, 8, is heading into third grade was too good to pass up.
"I've always had my eye on Milwaukie," he said. "My son was practicing out here with his club soccer team a couple of years ago, and I'd come out here and I'd look at the facility and look at the school. I knew about the pending construction and thought, 'This is going to be a really unique situation in the coming years.'"
Moreno, 37, was on board at Milwaukie long enough to enjoy a handful of athletic accomplishments, most notably the wrestling team's impressive run to the 2017-18 Northwest Oregon Conference district championship and sophomore Savannah Ramirez's state title in the girls discus at the 2019 OSAA 5A Track and Field Championships.
He also ushered in several new coaches, starting last year with Colin Schaeffer (football), Luis Guerrero (boys soccer), Michael White (girls basketball), and Mollie Star (track and field), plus three new hires for the upcoming school year in Carol York (volleyball), Robert Lippi (wrestling), and Terrell Ayo (baseball).
Moreno said the demands of the job often cut into family time, and saw the move to Rock Creek Middle School as an opportunity to strike a better balance between work and his family — wife Mary and daughters Malia, 6, and Ayla, 4.
"I will always treasure my time at Milwaukie," Moreno said. "I really enjoyed it there. I wasn't very active in the hiring process for the next athletic director, but my transition notes and my slideshow presentation were entitled: 'Milwaukie High School: Land of Opportunity.' There's a lot of good things going in the right direction.
"Last year's group of sophomores that I saw through as incoming freshmen, I'm looking forward to them opening up the new building. It's going to be awesome. I'll be keeping track."
Mailey's first two weeks on his new job were spent connecting with coaches and boosters, talking over some of the key points on his agenda for the upcoming school year.
For starters, Mailey wants to build some continuity within the coaching staff so that are open lines of communication and support for coaches across all programs.
Next, he wants to promote morale and school spirit throughout the high school staff and student body.
Another initiative is to breath new life into the Mustangs Booster Club, which means not only connecting with parents of current Milwaukie athletes, but also reconnecting with alumni who still live in the area.
And, finally, Mailey wants to see as many students as possible participating in one sport or another.
"Milwaukie is a very diverse school and I want our athletic teams to represent our population, so all students are being recruited and are made to feel welcome into the programs," he said. "I want to make sure that our coaches are reaching out to every student population is coming out for tryouts.
"We want everybody involved. The wins and all those things will come later. I'm not really worried about that. I'm more worried about seeing that our programs are growing and showing sustained growth over time and that our teams are a true representation of who we are as a student-body population."
Now that Moratorium Week in everyone's review mirror, most of Milwaukie's fall sports teams are expected to jump back into conditioning programs this week in preparation for the OSAA's official start of pre-season camps on Aug. 19.
And Mailey will be there, too.
"I don't like sitting at my desk," he said. "So, I'll be up and around, watching coaches coach, watching kids play, and recruiting and cheerleading and try just trying to bring energy to the community."
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