By Nicole Ade
Principal David Samore is almost back to his normal self after having a mild heart attack and open heart surgery.
He’s coming to work every day, back to leading meetings, striding down the halls, and checking students for dress code and passes.
“I’m not back to 100% yet. I’m still not doing my push-ups,” Samore, 62, said recently. He said he started walking right away after his March 2 surgery and got back to running in mid-April.
Samore had be
en living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding junk food and exercising regularly. Just two days before his mild heart attack, he was working out in the gym, where he exercises three times a week.
“That’s the frustrating part; I did everything right,” Samore said. The doctor told him that without a healthy lifestyle, “it would have been earlier. Everyone has genetics. I guess I’m one of those unlucky guys.”
Since he tries to be healthy, it was a surprise when everyone learned he needed open heart surgery.
He said that he’d been going through his garage on Feb. 25, looking for items for a garage sale, when he felt pressure in his upper left chest and tingling in his arm. Samore visited a doctor, where they took blood and could tell from an enzyme that he had had a mild heart attack.
For the surgery, doctors cut his chest open to reach his heart. “Everybody’s heart, every human, heart is in the process of slowly blocking. It’s called plaque,” he said.
Four of the five arteries leading to his heart were blocked, so doctors had to create a bypass using four healthier arteries from other parts of his body.
“The doctor said, ‘I just gave you 30 more years,’ ” Samore said.
While he was out recovering, Assistant Principal Terri Livingston was in charge.
Asked how the school was during Samore’s absence, math teacher Chris Bischoff said, “It doesn’t feel good at all because he is the rock of the school, our foundation.”
Samore came back after spring break. And soon, he predicts, he’ll be able to “beat everybody” again in doing 50 push-ups.
Despite the surgery, he still plans to lead a June trip to Spain and work for another 18 months. He intends to retire from Okeeheelee in June 2018 so that a new principal can take over in the fall. But he says he will continue to work for the school district for six months more and then officially retire in December 2018.
And then what? Samore wants to visit his sons, live in Spain about three months a year, and finish writing a book about how to be an effective school administrator.
“There’s so much to do,” he said. “I’m not a guy who sits around still very easily.”