Mike Wade retires

Wade worked at Kirkwood for over 30 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator

At the end of 2020, Mike Wade, long-time KHS teacher and principal, retired. Wade served Kirkwood for over 30 years, coaching two varsity sports and graduating five classes of students. The students of KHS remember Mike Wade as one of the most influential KHS class principals.

“I met Coach Wade my freshman year. He was my football and track coach,” Willie Parks, 1992 KHS graduate and current KHS walking counselor, said. “He was my school father, my dad away from home. [Coach Wade] helped me to become the athlete I’ve become [today].”

Mr. Wade worked within KSD from 1989-2020. He was a P.E. teacher (1989-2004), head track and field coach (1989-1994), head football coach (1993-2003) and a grade level associate principal (2004-2020). Wade not only performed his educational duties but put the extra time in to truly know his students. 

Wade served as Head Track and Field Coach from 1989-94. Photo courtesy of Cindy Ricks.

 “[Mr. Wade] is the kind of guy who loves to get to know everyone in his class,” Zack Demetri, 2018 KHS graduate, said. “He made a strong and successful effort to get to know everyone.”

Wade’s principle of knowing all of his students had a profound impact. According to Demetri, Wade did everything he could to make sure students knew they were valued. He would go out of his way to ensure his kid’s needs were heard, something Lynn Columbus also remembers. 

“I just always felt like I had someone looking out for me,” Columbus, 2014 KHS graduate and current KHS walking counselor, said. “Being able to talk with my principal was [incredible]. Teachers support you, but Wade always took the extra step to make sure you knew he was there for you.”

According to Columbus, Wade loved working with his students and making school fun. He attended every football and basketball game and fully ingrained himself within his students. She said he left a lasting impact on all students at KHS. Taylor Anderson felt this influence before she even walked into the high school. 

“When I was in middle school, [Mr. Wade] already knew my name and was excited to get to know my class,” said Anderson, 2018 KHS graduate. “He knew every single one of his student’s names by the end of first semester freshman year. He cares [for his students] not only in the classroom but far beyond the classroom as well.”

Wade welcomes freshmen on the first day of school with his Class of 2014. Photo courtesy of Cindy Ricks.

Mr. Wade retired just over halfway through his class of 2022’s high school career. While he will not officially graduate the class of 2022, many of these students feel his profound impact. 

“He is someone I look up to and respect,” said Griffin Young, current KHS junior. “Whether he is your principal or not, [everyone] knows who Wade is. You know he is the guy who will smile as you walk by and give you a high five before your next test.”

Young said the class of 2022 is losing a family member in Wade. According to Young, Wade was a very influential person within the district. Drew Cherry, also class of 2022, agrees with this. She said no one can fill the shoes Wade left behind. 

Wade celebrates after a varsity football game with Class of 22 students. Photo courtesy of Cindy Ricks.

“Mr. Wade changed my outlook [on] both school and life,” said Cherry. “While at Kirkwood, Mr. Wade was the single greatest asset to [the] Kirkwood School District.”

While Wade’s time at Kirkwood has come to a close, his legacy will continue. A sentiment voiced by all is Wade’s never-ending love and support of his students.

“Wade had every kid’s respect,” said Cherry. “Mr. Wade engaged with students in a different way than any other teacher. He went out of his way to make sure all students were happy and healthy.”