ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A St. Paul high school is losing its leader, but she’s heading into retirement feeling loved.

Principal Mary Mackbee has worked for St. Paul Public Schools for more than 50 years. For two and a half decades, she’s been walking the halls of Central High School as its principal.

“We are losing a legend. I mean, it’s going to be really tough to replace a Mary Mackbee at Central High School,” Treacy Funk said.

The hallways of Central High School in St. Paul will be missing a familiar face next school year.

“I am going to practice the art of doing nothing,” Mackbee laughed.

(credit: CBS)

Mackbee is retiring after 26 years on the job, working side by side with a group she now considers family.

“We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and births and deaths and so it’s really just one community that I have really enjoyed being a part of,” Mackbee said.

For decades, Mackbee has been the glue behind this tight-knit school, and students notice.

“I feel she really built a community within the walls of the high school and it just like really wouldn’t be the same without her,” Azy Iheagwara.

“She has been a great principal for the past three years for me and it is going to be sad to not have her around anymore,” Samantha Dodoo added.

Mackbee dedicated more than 50 years of her life to St. Paul Public Schools. While her resume is robust, the legacy she is leaving behind is most impressive.

“It is hard to put into words what Mary Mackbee is. As far as a leader, community, I mean she embraced it all. And yet at the same time, she made you feel special on a one-to-one basis,” Funk said.

“She is one of those people who just always wants the best for you, no matter who you are. She doesn’t care, she just wants the best for you,” Dodoo said.

“Ms. Mackbee was loved and feared. We knew she was serious and kept us on our toes, but we knew she was always there if we needed help or someone to talk to for anything,” Adrian Perryman added.

The love she has shown students over the years came back to her Saturday.

“I am overwhelmed,” Mackbee said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter both came out to honor Principal Mackbee’s career in education.

Erin Hassanzadeh