A product of Catholic schools herself through college, Mary Frances Malinoski found herself out of place during her first teaching assignment.
The public school was too large and the “politically correct,” Godless environment bothered her. Malinoski turned to Catholic school campuses and never looked back. Now, after 45 years in education, including 15 of the last 25 as principal in the Diocese of Phoenix, Malinoski retired June 3.
She spent the last six years at San Francisco de Asís in Flagstaff but before that served at St. Daniel the Prophet in Scottsdale and in the ‘90s was principal at Most Holy Trinity and the old St. Mary’s Elementary School in Phoenix.
“Once I began teaching in a Catholic school I knew I was home,” Malinoski said, the eve before her final day of school with the students. “Faith, Catholic traditions, high academics and service to others are the standards that have always kept me in Catholic education.”
That’s not to say that teaching methods didn’t adapt over the years. She recalled classroom days before the concept of a “prep period,” teacher’s aid, dedicated teachers for fine arts or physical education and before computers were necessary.
“Getting purple ink on your hands and clothes when copying papers was always a nightmare,” Malinsoki said. “While the use of technology has improved all areas of education, the demands and requirements at all levels have also increased.”
Class size, she said, has decreased. Today’s Catholic school students also have the luxury of leaning at their pace and style with teachers able to cater to students grasping material at different levels, she said.
“Students today are at a great advantage because we are able to identify areas where learning is a challenge and we have the resources to create programs to help them grow in confidence and knowledge,” Malinoski said.
She is taking many fond memories with her from lunchtime with students to school retreats, staff skits, friendly sports rivalry to ensuring one of the priests isn’t carrying contraband candy for the students.
“The fourth grade students had a tradition that every time I walked into their room, they would jump up and say a new cheer for me. That I will miss,” Malinoski said.
Fr. Pat Mowrer, pastor, acknowledged her efforts in enhancing the school’s Catholic character over the years, which padded its latest accreditation score.
Anna Hoffman’s youngest daughter was an eighth-grader when Malinoski arrived. Hoffman has worked with her since as parish manager and described the May 29 farewell sendoff as a heart-warming celebration and a bittersweet one. Each class offered a tribute via a memory or song with parents putting together a tribute video and teachers also lending a hand. It concluded with a traditional farewell blessing song gifted to anyone leaving the school.
“Everybody was showering her with love and appreciation and gifts,” Hoffman said. They also offered prayers for her retirement years.
“She was very dedicated to our school and put in countless hours to our school and our students,” Hoffman said, noting Malinoski’s level of professionalism, experience and dedication.