Few people have the kind of passion and dedication it takes to be a teacher. But for Dr. Ronald W. Christman, teaching is in his blood, and for as long as he can remember his life has revolved around the betterment of education and the many children whose lives he has touched.
Christman, much to the disappointment of many, is preparing to retire from Gilbertsville Elementary School after more than 20 years of service with the school as both teacher and principal. The parting is a difficult one, with students, parents and teachers lamenting the loss and sharing their love for Christman.
"What do you do and say about a man who has done so much for our children and our community?" parent-teacher organization president Sheri Waldman asks. "He spoke at our PTO meeting the other night and sobbed the whole way through as did the 60-plus parents that were there."
Christman, whose ebullience is both disarming and engaging, is a man who has rarely – if ever -- missed a school-sponsored event, and he shares his sentiments, tearing up as he talks about his years at Gilbertsville and what the children and their parents have meant to him.
"When you get into your job, you have to have a passion, and I've had a passion and excitement about teaching, working with children, all my life," Christman said.
Christman's more than 40 years working with children, includes 32-and-a-half years in the public school system: 14 years of teaching and 18-and-a-half years as principal. His departure is undoubtedly difficult, especially from a school Christman has been so personally connected with throughout his life.
After all, he has seen his life come virtually full circle. Growing up in Sassmansville, Christman himself is a former student of Gilbertsville Elementary School.
"I have had the distinct privilege of having been student, teacher and principal here at Gilbertsville. I had Mr. Khervin Ziegler when I came here in sixth-grade, and the classroom I was in is now a classroom for learning support assistance," he said.
An admitted "so-so" student, Christman graduated from Boyertown Area Senior High School in 1966 and left for college in North Carolina, a big step for a small-town boy. "None of my brothers or parents finished high school, but I was the first to finish and go off to college. I was homesick for most of my freshman year, at least in the beginning," he said. "It was a big step for this country boy who grew up on a farm."
Majoring in business at Catawba College in Salisbury, Christman said life changed the day he met college professor Dr. Martha West. When West got hold of him, Christman said, she convinced him of his leadership skills and told him he would make an excellent teacher.
"She saw in me something that others had not seen," he said.
Shortly thereafter, Chistman switched his major from business to elementary education and the rest, as they say, is history.
Christman went on to become president of his senior class at Catawba, along with becoming president of fraternity Kappa Tau Kappa, an organization of education majors. After marrying his school sweetheart, Barbara Myers, in 1970, the couple settled in to life in Salisbury, with both Christmans teaching in the local school system. Christman went on to win numerous teaching awards. Read more...
FULL STORY: Gilbertsville's Dr. Ronald W. Christman (berksmontnews.com)