Keleher Bids Farewell to DHS
Beloved Athletic Director Retires after 10 years

More by Jessica DeMaio - 01/12

After devoting 10 years to the esteemed position of Athletic Director at Darien High School, Mr. John Keleher has decided it is time to pack it in.

Before coming to DHS, Mr. Keleher was the cross country and indoor and outdoor track coach at Central Connecticut State University for over 29 years.

Although he technically retired from coaching, Keleher said he just wasn’t ready to fully retire 10 years ago, which is why he took the job as Athletic Director at DHS. “My favorite part is getting to watch you all play,” Keleher said of the different sports teams and games he witnesses throughout the school year. He also added that the worst and hardest part about his job is to deal with athlete discipline.

Keleher was originally scheduled to retire on January 1, 2012, but he says that the date is up in the air now. “There was no magic about that date,” Keleher said, “I retire whenever they take my keys away”. The reason for the current uncertainty as to when he is retiring is due to the fact that the school must find a replacement, and that person also must give his or her current employment some notice that that person will be leaving his or her job.

The process for hiring a new Athletic Director is indeed a drawn out and detailed one. It first began with the administration convening focus groups of PE teachers, students, and coaches and asking them what they would like to see in an Athletic Director, Principal Haron said. Then of course the administration took in many applications for the position, and narrowed it down to 10 initial candidates. Qualifications for the position include an already obtained administrator’s certificate and a background as an educator, preferably at the high school level.

The first round of interviews was a series of questions created by the feedback received from the focus groups, and the first round interviewers consisted of Principal Haron, Middlesex Middle School Principal Doctor Bocanfusco, the director of facilities, and the assistant superintendent. After the first round interviews they narrowed the candidates down to six to go through to the second round of interviews, which was conducted by a much larger committee. This committee was made up of PE teachers and coaches from elementary to high school, because although stationed at DHS, the Athletic Director is the head of all coaches and PE teachers in the Darien Public School system. At the time this article was submitted for publication the third round of interviews was about to commence with four or three candidates left, interviews which the superintendent conducts. The final step in the process is approval from the Board of Education, who Mr. Haron says usually likes to see two candidates.

Keleher said the reason he decided to retire this year was simply because it was time. He said at some point it is just time to retire if it is possible and economically feasible and for him that time is now. He also said his wife is retiring this year as well and he has five grandkids he would love to spend more time with.

Principal Mr. Dan Haron said although he is very sad to see Mr. Keleher  go he appreciates and understands his desire to take time off from the job and spend time with his family. Coach DeMaio added, “My personal feelings are happy for him, but sad to see him go because we’ve worked closely together for years.”

Keleher said that most of all he will miss the people he gets to work with every day. “DHS is a great community to work in,” Keleher said. When asked what he will be doing in his future spare time Keleher responded “Call my wife, she’ll tell you.” He also mentioned that he has a house in West Hartford that has lacked care since he’s been working at DHS, and that the renovation of the interior and exterior of the house will be a major project that will consume a good amount of his time.

Whenever Mr. Keleher retires, it is clear that it will have a significant impact on the athletic atmosphere of DHS. “Whenever there is change there is a transition period,” Mr. Haron said. “Mr. Keleher brought so many wonderful things to the table as an Athletic Director.” Coach DeMaio added, “I think all the other coaches feel the same way; we would’ve liked to see him delay his retirement a couple of more years but he wants to enjoy the things he wants to enjoy.”

Thank you Mr. Keleher for all of your dedication to athletics at Darien High School and we wish you all the best in your endeavors!