On a warm August day, Carol gets a phone call from the Kutztown Area School District in Berks County asking me to come up for an interview for its junior high school principalship. I had not even thought about the application and was hunkering down for another year at Woodrow Wilson High School. On a warm Summer day, I made the one hour trek to the superintendent’s office and waited until I was called in. There were three men seated in the room- one behind a desk and the other two facing the desk. The Superintendent, Sean Candlewyck, greeted me in a Southern drawl and introduced me to Carson Schmoyer and Vernon Kamp, both school board members. Dr. Candlewyck asked most of the questions and Mssrs. Schmoyer and Kamp wanted to know about me in a personal way. I was neither nervous nor concerned about the interview and told them what they wanted to know. I asked a few questions about the school, the community, the salary and benefits and when they might want me to start. They appeared to look at each other, as if to say, let’s give him the answers that he wants. That was a clue that they were interested. I believe when I left the interview, I was certain that I had gotten the job. When I got home, Carol told me that the secretary to the superintendent, Lorraine Dreis, has called and wanted me to call back.
Lorraine told me that I was being offered the job at the salary that we had discussed and when could I come aboard. I told her that I would have to give Bristol Township notice and get back to her. The next day, I went to the administration building to meet with Superintendent Weekly and told him that I was leaving and how much time did he need for me to stay. He told me that I was free to leave any time I wanted and asked me to write out a letter of resignation. Somehow, I did not trust Weekly and checked to see how many vacation days I had and other benefits that I had accrued over the six years of work in Bristol Township.
I wrote out my resignation, using a date that included all of my leave time, and submitted it to him immediately. I told his secretary that I would be going over to the high school to clean out my things and that I would be gone by the end of the day. Since none of the teaching staff were there, I went over to the high school and said good bye to the administrators, custodians and coaches. I left Bristol Township with no regrets and with a completely new understanding of my capabilities. I would never look back.
I went back home and discussed my timetable for the Kutztown job and called the superintendent’s secretary and told her that I would be at work the following Monday. She told me to report to her office to fill out some papers. The rest of the week was taken up with discussions of whether we should move to Kutztown, or commute the hour till we saw how things worked out. We talked to our children and told them about daddy’s new job. Dara, who was four did not comprehend, but Marc asked about us moving to a new place. Neither of the kids seemed concerned about it and kind of looked at it as a new adventure.
Our family has always been a unit. Even these days when our children are grown and there are grandchildren, we are still a unit, with more people attached. Our son and daughter-in-law, as well as our daughter and son-in-law seem to understand that and chime in when they feel they can. The four of us have a history that goes back over 40 years now and we share that with no one else. Kutztown became our home and even today we think about it that way. It was a small town surrounded by other small towns, Hamburg, Fleetwood and Brandywine and up country to Maxatawney, Krumsville and Klinesville, Kempton and Hawk Mountain. We still maintain many of the friendships that we made there. Sadly many of our good friends have passed away. We remember them fondly when we get together with our children.
My tour of the junior high school the following Monday led me to ask these questions; how come the building was still standing, how do you deal with a building that is divided by two streets, can you really fit 600 kids in this building and why is a building that was constructed in 1912 still around and being used. My tour also included meeting my new secretary Audrey Gougler, my head custodian Dave Moyer and a second custodian who just looked at me and scowled. I immediately liked Dave and Audrey. They were Pennsylvania Dutch folks through and through. They welcomed me and made me feel like I had been there for a while. I also met Harold Fleishcr, the Assistant Superintendent, who would change places with me in four years.
I began the work of looking at the schedule. I was fortunate to have John Rohrbach as my guidance counselor. He was a long time resident of the area and had actually graduated from Kutztown High School. He knew just about everyone. He also knew their nicknames, their dalliances and their freindschaft ( families). I was warned by both Harold and John not to speak of others in front of my staff because many of them were related. I did not heed their advice in my first year.