DRACUT — After more than a decade working for Dracut Public Schools, Mike Maguire has retired from his role as Director of Food Service.
“I’ve been doing this for 16 years and, aside from working full time for the schools, we have a family business in town, Maguire’s Tavern,” Maguire, 61, said. “I’ve been juggling a full-time position throughout the school year along with running our family business and I just got to the point where I made a decision with my wife that it was time to slow down a bit.”
Patricia Puntumapanitch has succeeded Maguire in the role.
Now that he’s officially retired, Maguire said he plans to continue running his family business and spending more time at home and in the White Mountains.
Over 100 people gathered Tuesday evening at the Lo-Kai Restaurant in Dracut to celebrate his years of service with Dracut Public Schools. Among those in attendance were Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone, state Rep. Colleen Garry, and the many people Maguire worked with over the years.
“It was very bittersweet,” Maguire said. “It was nice to hear some of my friends stretch the truth and say nice things about me … it was great to see both new and old friends.”
Director of Facilities Andrew Graham said Maguire has always been a dedicated public servant.
“As both a school board member and an employee here, he was responsible for a lot of positive things that have happened in the Dracut Public Schools,” Graham said. “It’s hard to find people that care and go beyond their job description to make Dracut a better place.”
Maguire’s earliest experience with food service came at 22 years old when he worked full-time at his family’s former business, the Haven restaurant. He called it a “baptism by fire” — a place where he learned everything he could about food service.
Maguire, a longtime Dracut resident, later served on the Dracut School Committee in the 90s and took a chance when he saw an opening for Director of Food Service.
“If I had to put it in a word, I found it very, very rewarding dealing with children of all ages, making sure they were properly nourished, recognizing when some children had difficulty — whether it be at school or at home — and trying to assist them during difficulties,” he said. “And working with what I’ve always said are the hardest working people in the Dracut Public Schools — the lunch ladies.”
Maguire said he worked with anywhere from 24 to 30 lunch ladies each day at six different locations, adding that he always told them that the population they served were students upstairs, but customers when they’re down in the cafeteria. Food service, he said, is all about quality and respect for the customer.
“The thing I’m most proudest of on my time there was the way we managed to feed our students during the renovation of Dracut High School. It was a three-year process,” he said, adding that food was prepared daily at Justus C. Richardson Middle School and brought over to a temporary kitchen by van to the high school. “It was a monumental task, but we got it done.”
Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone said Maguire has been a great advocate for children in the town of Dracut and has done an unbelievable amount of work on behalf of the school system.
“He’s been great,” Stone said. “He will be greatly missed in the school system.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.