A Family Affair (by Elizabeth Pearson)

A Family Affair

Conleys Turn Up Around Every Corner at DHS

By Elizabeth Pearson

This family is one that most Delta students see every day in the halls, whether it’s your teacher, classmate, or even your principal. 

The Conleys take family bonding to the next level. 

Chris Conley, Shane Conley, Evan Conley, and Mackenzie Dye Conley make up this clan, but each one of them has a different role here at the school.

Junior Evan Conley is just like any other student. 

He is involved in school activities; he plays football and runs track. 

His brother, Shane, and his sister-in-law, Mackenzie, are teachers and the varsity track coaches, and Shane is also his football assistant coach, so he gets to see a lot of them after school. 

“We have been able to connect on more things and hang out more,” Evan said. 

Evan also participates in activities outside of the school such as Delaware County PRIDE team and 4-H for shooting sports.

Evan Pride
During a PRIDE Team appearance at Albany Elementary School, junior Evan Conley leads the students in an activity to promote healthy lifestyles.

Delaware County PRIDE team is what really stands out to him as he said it is arguably the most influential thing that he has done. 

“I get to be around others from different schools with very similar morals but different characteristics,” Evan said.

He gets to experience high school in a slightly different way, though, considering his dad is the principal. 

In addition to seeing his dad much more often than other students get to see their father, he also gets to see “two different sides of him between school and home,” Evan said.

During the school day, Evan sees his dad quite often since his locker is by the office and he also sees him during lunch. He sees his brother Shane occasionally, but Mackenzie not very often. 

Some pros of having his family members close-by all day is that he can get permission easily and he also has a better connection with teachers than most other students.

The biggest con is that he is always being watched by someone.

“Even if it’s not my dad, someone will more than likely say something to him about something I did,” Evan said. 

Conley convo
Principal Chris Conley speaks to students at a convocation in 2019.

Chris Conley, Delta’s principal, has some of the same feelings as Evan in regards to it being hard to stay out of Evan’s, Shane’s, and Mackenzie’s business while at school. 

He says that he doesn’t do observations for either Shane or Mackenzie’s classes and he has to take a step back on Evan’s effort in class. 

Before he became our principal, Mr. Conley had plenty of experience in school environments. 

He was a principal at Albany Elementary School, an assistant principal at Delta Middle School, an athletic director at our high school, a teacher at Alexandria High School for five years, and a teacher at Alexandria Middle School for six years.

Altogether, he spent 11 years teaching English, World History, United States History, and Government.

Conley in class

Principal Conley participates in a podcast in Mr. Cleland's communications class in 2018.

Being Delta’s principal for eight years, he has many duties that some students may not know about. 

As principal, he conducts  teacher evaluations, dabbles in discipline, performs supervision, represents our school at events, hires teachers and instructional assistants, holds graduation duties, and helps students with Plato courses.

Sometimes he even picks up trash throughout the halls.

Being so close all day with Shane, Mackenzie, and Evan, Mr. Conley says it makes their bond different because they have a different relationship at school.

“Professionally, Shane, Mackenzie, and I keep our distance and try to keep it as professional as we can,” Mr. Conley said. “I can’t be dad here.”

He gets to see Evan almost daily at lunch and gets to see Shane because he checks in on the special needs students that he teaches. But he said he doesn’t see Mackenzie much since she is in the corner with the preschool.

Some pros of having them so close is that he gets to watch each one of them grow, specifically seeing Shane and Mackenzie’s relationship with students and student-athletes grow.

“It’s been very rewarding to watch Shane be able to coach his younger brother,” Mr. Conley said.

Shane coaching Evan
Assistant football coach Shane Conley (left) instructs his younger brother, junior lineman Evan Conley (62).

He also gets to create some funny memories with his family members, such as having to throw Shane out of a basketball game when he was a senior because he wasn’t dressed properly. 

Shane’s funniest memory of when he was a student was when he got in trouble by his dad during physics class.

He and other students were doing a sound wave experiment using long Slinkys and Shane decided to touch the top of his dad’s head with it while his father was on lunch duty.

Shane says that his dad was not at all amused, but he and his friends thought it was hilarious.  

Shane has been teaching at Delta for four years, including three at the middle school before coming over this year to the high school.

He teaches special education along with coaching football and serving as the head coach for boys’ track and field. 

He has coached for eight years now, four being at Delta. 

Shane doesn’t mind having his dad as the principal.

“We have a good understanding of what the line is for personal and professional aspects of the job. I also know that I am probably held to a higher standard than what most other employees are, which is fine,” Shane said.

He enjoys having his family so close because he gets to share his experiences with them and it’s nice to know that they have each other to rely on.

Another added bonus is that Shane and Mackenzie ride to school together, saving money on gas.

Mackenzie and Shane teach one class of Nutrition and Wellness together, but after that, don’t see each other a whole lot during the day. 

Shane and Mackenzie
Teachers Shane Conley and his wife, Mackenzie Dye Conley, met while working at a summer camp.

“We actually met working together at a camp for kids with autism, so it's interesting and fun to revisit our relationship as co-teachers,” Mackenzie said. “Shane does occasionally stop by the preschool to say hello to the preschoolers during his prep hour, which is hilarious because they love him so much and occasionally sass him! 

“But other than if one of us has a question about track, we really don't see each other outside of that one class,” Mackenzie added. 

She not only teaches Child Development and Nutrition and Wellness to the high schoolers, but she also teaches in the preschool daily as well.

This can be quite challenging for her, but it is all worth it to her when she gets to see her preschoolers and high-schoolers both grow throughout the year. She says it often is the highlight of her day. 

In the preschool, Mackenzie tries to set up the lessons and have the high-schoolers be in charge as much as they can. 

She sets up story time, reading, writing, and math activities for them to do. 

She also has “circle time,” where they talk about the days of the week, what they'll be doing that day, the theme or topic of the week, and what "big buddies" (the high-schoolers) would be reading to them that day.

Apart from being a teacher, she is also the head girls’ track and field coach and an assistant cross country coach. 

She spends her time writing workouts, organizing the meet line-ups, and occasionally organizing the track equipment.

Being able to work with Chris and Shane has brought them all closer on a professional level.

“Getting to know someone as a person and in their profession is a unique opportunity. It's also easier to work with people you enjoy spending time with, so I think it's brought us closer professionally,” Mackenzie said.

She enjoys having them close because it is easier to communicate face to face rather than over the phone and they are also nearby during emergencies. 

She says that there aren’t any major cons besides some stress every now and then.

“There are times throughout the year that are more stressful for teachers and administrators than other times,” Mackenzie said. “One of the cons of having all of us in the same building is that during those periods, it affects our family a lot more than families with only one teacher or administrator.”

All four of them seem to agree that the pros outweigh the cons and that this experience has made them closer. 

Although it’s not a very common circumstance, this student, principal, and these two teachers seem to make it work quite well.