Tom Blocher and his nearly 38 years in Boyertown Education

By Jennifer Hetrick
hetrick@boyertown.biz

As a man who only believes in making the best of each day, Tom Blocher, of Gilbertsville, took his first teaching job at Boyertown Area Senior High School in 1968 and dedicated almost 38 years of his life to bringing positive attention to learning.

Originally from Altoona, Blocher studied at Shippensburg University after one of his high school teachers encouraged him and helped him fill out applications and paperwork. Before that sudden unexpected influence, he hadn’t planned to attend a four-year school.

Blocher served as a business teacher at the high school until 1985. After that, he served as Assistant Principal of Boyertown Junior High West until 1990. For the next 10 years, he held the position of Principal.

From 2000 to 2005, he took on the role of assistant superintendent in the district, later serving as acting superintendent for about nine months before retiring.
The inspiring words, of the teacher who told Blocher to go onto a four-year college, show the power of the different possibilities in choices a person can make in life, with a heartfelt persuasion, for the better, from someone who cares.

“I really enjoy working with students, and I chaperoned trips to football games and cavalcades. That stands out because you’re working with kids in a setting outside of the classroom,” he said. “When a teacher does that, it helps both you and the students in the classroom because they know you have an interest in them, and then they respect you more.”

Blocher said he always gave advice to new teachers that they should get involved, going to students’ practices, plays, and events like The Cavalcade.
“Seeing students grow and helping them to be successful, finding their path & interests in life” is what he said he liked most about working with young people during his nearly four decades in the district.

Now, Blocher enjoys his retirement by keeping plenty social, reading, golfing, and traveling. He’s been to the Grand Canyon, France, and, this winter, spent time in Puerto Rico.

He’s also known for being a kind fellow who doesn’t mind driving relatives, friends, and neighbors to doctor’s appointments.

The Need for a Boyertown Education Foundation

By Dr. Dion Betts

One of the most compelling reasons people choose to live in the Boyertown School District is our outstanding public schools. BASD is known to provide an excellent education in a cost-effective manner, as exemplified by high student achivevement and relatively low tax rates (as compared with many neighboring districts). Our community is proud that our District and its students have won numerous awards for their accomplishments in academics, fine arts, and sports. It is important that educational excellence and the further strengthening of academics continue. Over the past two years, a Foundation Investigation Committee comprised of Dr. Dion Betts, superintendent, school board directors, community members and district staff, have met to discuss ways in which we can continue to provide educational excellence and prepare the next generation of studens. With the many budget shortfalls, it was determined that an education foundation would hlep to provide additional resources to assure continued educational excellenc within our District at this time. An educational foundation would allow the District to build on these successes without burdening the taxpayers of the District. Most school districts in Pennsylvania have such a foundation. The Foundation would encourage academic innovation and the use of technology. However, the focus is not limited to only technology but other areas as well, such as college and career readiness and school facility improvements. The Foundation Investigation Committee members will be reaching out to stakeholders in our school district, including business leaders, community members, civic leaders, and neighbors. The goal is to have a foundation operational by June 2013. We are asking interested people to consider being a part of the Foundation Steering Committee. Members will determine the Foundation’s relationship to the School District, create by-laws, incorporate the organization, and establish the first board of directors. Members will have the honor of helping to create a new paradigm of school, community, and business connections. If you are interested or know someone who might want to be part of this Foundation Steering Committee, please contact Dr. Dion Betts, Superintendent, Boyertown Area School District, at dbetts@boyertownasd.org or 610-367-6031.

March Madness Builds Camaraderie for Teachers & Staff at BASH

By Rich Sachs
Teacher of Physical Education

I recently ran a March Madness Men’s NCAA Basketball contest for the teachers and staff of Boyertown Area Senior High School. The purpose of the contest was to build school camaraderie through participation, education, and having fun. People from many different departments, who do not regularly work closely with one another, participated together.

Your Boyertown Area Senior High School winners of March Madness, Big Dance, Men’s 2012 NCAA Final Four Champions, picking the winning team [Kentucky], are the following: Steven Bleiler, Matt Danner, Bobbie Eddinger, John Hagmann, Jeff Kusniez, Joe McGlinchey, Chad Roth, Amanda Wagenseller, Cynthia Woodley. Runner-up Team [Kansas]: Adam Lieb, Brittany Troutman.

Your Boyertown Area Senior High School winners of March Madness, Picking the Closest to Combined Total Score of Championship Game Contest (Kentucky 67 + Kansas 59 = 126 Total Points) are the following: 1st Place: Sandra Beck, Erica Shaw at 125 Points; 2nd Place: Kathy Kirk, Karen Kooker at 123 Points; 3rd place: Joy Sirianni at 122 Points.

Eighty-seven BASH staff members participated, of a total staff of 210, which is a 41% participation rate. Sixty-two teachers participated out of a total of 118 teachers, which is a 53% participation rate. All participants received a handsome “Certificate of Participation.”

We want to thank our sponsors, who provided gift certificates for prizes: Rita’s Italian Water Ice of Boyertown, Boyertown Area YMCA, Final Results Fitness, Scott’s Bechtelsville Car Wash, Patriot Buick GMC, Serenity Junction, Los Aztecas Mexican Restaurant, Saville’s Diner, Red Hill Restaurant, Pit Stop Steak House, Moccia’s Italian Restaurant in Schwenksville, Wawa, Dairy Queen, King Buffet, Our Place Restaurant, Wendy’s Flowers, Adrianna’s Styling Gallery, Jake’s Wayback Burgers, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Scotty’s Pizza, Mario’s Pizza, Friendly’s, Talarico’s Sandwich Shop, Alley Gators II, Hibachi Supreme Grill Buffet, Sweet Beginnings Restaurant, Bunkin’ Donuts, Subway, The Grille Shop, Domino’s Pizza, Red Lobster.

Boyertown Area School District Pride

By Dr. Dion Betts, Boyertown Area School District Superintendent

What makes Boyertown Area School District Remarkable? Is it our award-winning fine arts programs and students? Is it our award-winning athletic programs and students? Is it our high achievement scores combined with a comparatively low cost (lowest cost per pupil in most neighboring districts, lowest administrator to student ratio)?

It is these things, and it is also parent involvement and community support for our schools. As an example, students, parents, staff members, and community members came out by the hundreds last year during budget season when we were faced with large reductions in state funding and the possibility of cutting programs and jobs. The teachers association took an unprecedented, historic 2.5 year pay freeze starting this school year, unknown in any other district that I know of. All employees, including Administration, took a pay freeze in fact. There was also a modest tax increase. Several positions were not replaced upon retirement or resignation of teachers and other staff, and an activity fee of $100 per student is now in place. However, no programs or jobs were lost.

Throughout my career, my hope has been to make schools a better place for students than when I went to school. We are examining cost-effective methods of delivering more programs that better prepare students to life after high school. Some options include using cyber programs alongside traditional courses. It is important that students know how to be successful in cyber learning environments, online learning, and so on. We have also embarked on the strategic plan process, to set the stage for the next six years. The completed strategic plan will be presented to the community later in the spring.

We are very focused on delivering the School District’s mission “to enable all students to succeed in a changing world.”

Please feel free to contact our administrative offices at 610-369-7402 if you have any questions or email me at dbetts@boyertownasd.org.