MHS Principal Clain Retires After 26 Years



Former MHS principal Elizabeth Clain looks forward to leaving on top.

Joe Robb O'Hagan, Social Media Team Director

Retiring MHS Principal Elizabeth Clain is a pillar of the community in Mamaroneck and Larchmont. Originally a history teacher of 17 years, Clain touched the lives of almost two decades worth of students before taking on the role of principal at Mamaroneck High School in 2011. Throughout her 11 year term, she has seen and mentored almost 7,000 students as they attend thought-provoking classes, perform under bright stage lights, lead transformative student governments, and excel in sports statewide. As she parts with an impressive career, she spoke with The Globe about her boldest memories, future plans, and advice for graduating seniors.

A beloved principal, Clain is best known for her vibrant and welcoming personality. After one interaction, anyone would feel comfortable talking to her for hours. Whether it’s sitting down at the picnic tables or observing math classrooms, Clain has said “daily interactions with kids and teachers and all the people who work in this building” is what she’ll miss most. Clain has a heart for people, recalling “the simple joy of kids performing” and the “wonder of seeing kids smiles” after MHS returned to a mask-optional environment. Hence, it is no surprise that the seemingly simple acts of conversing with students at lunch or attending a musical are integral to Clain’s core philosophy: that students who are treated with dignity and respect will show the same respect for learning. Her ability to implement this philosophy, forming strong and supportive relationships with every student is unique to Clain and her faculty. While she acknowledges that MHS is not perfect, Clain is proud of what she has accomplished and sees the community’s choice for her successor, Lina Carolini-Cannavò, as a signal they support the continuation of her work.

As Cannavò gets ready to begin her term as principal, Clain is getting ready for her next chapter, where she plans to continue making an impact in education. Specifically, she plans to target the emerging issue of teachers leaving the profession at increasing rates. Clain believes that the broad swath of new administrators and teachers in education, and the experienced alike, could benefit from an outside eye. With her goal “to use my experience to mentor and consult as a leadership coach for education leaders,” Clain hopes to ease the high stress of a new career in teaching and hopefully bring more teachers and administrators back into school buildings.

As Clain works towards this next goal, she recognizes that the MHS Class of 2022 will make their own transition simultaneously. She encourages graduates to “try to be in tune with what your needs are, not to bow or bend to what others expect of you or what you think others expect of you,” highlighting that all students have different needs and passions which will be facilitated through different paths. In a community that promotes such high expectations, Clain’s advice speaks to all students, whether they are taking a gap year, entering the workforce, or aspiring to collegiate education. To the vast majority pursuing college, she wishes for students to enjoy their university experience and try their best not to define the time by society’s expectations. She wants students to “recognize that there is a lot of transition” and “know they are not alone” in their experiences.

A cornerstone of the classroom and the principal’s desk, Clain leaves the high school in simplicity, saying that high school is a time for “adolescents…to begin to fly on their own.” Emphasizing the need for students to “stumble and (the) need to get up.” She believes that the purpose of high school, her faculty, and her students is to support students in this growth. She explains: “that is what we are here for. That is who we are”. As Clain leaves Mamaroneck High School in the capable hands of Cannavò , she wishes for students to pursue whatever success means to them, allowing high school to be a place to grow from mistakes and build relationships with teachers and peers. Clain worked tirelessly to encourage students to prioritize their interests over external pressures and hopes that students will continue to develop into well-rounded individuals with a love and appreciation of learning.