Storied teacher, coach, and counselor announces retirement

Bill Travers ready for April retirement after 46 years in education


Madison Wiernusz

Mr. Bill Travers has been a counselor in North Penn’s College and Career Planning Center for the past sixteen years, and he taught math for thirty years prior. Travers is set to retire on April 15th, 2016.

TOWAMENCIN – In 1970, Richard Nixon was President, a stamp cost $0.06, and UCLA defeated Jacksonville in the NCAA championship. In that same year, Mr. Bill Travers of North Penn’s College and Career Planning Center began his teaching career.

Now, 46 years later, after a career consisting of teaching, coaching, and counseling, Travers is set to retire April 15th.

Travers began his educational career by accident, for when he first worked in a school he was only a traffic monitor and it was only to make some extra money for college. That experience, however, made him realize “[he] kind of like[s] this”, and he could see himself working with students.

In spring of 1970, Travers was offered a math and religion teaching position at North Catholic High School, where he was the assistant football coach and eventually the head coach.  At the front of his classroom, Travers had a quote that read “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time”, and he preached that to students and athletes alike.

When he came to North Penn, Travers was the head football coach.
Photo Courtesy of Accolade 1986
When he came to North Penn, Travers was the head football coach.

Over the years, Travers found connections between teaching and coaching, and that helped him excel in both positions.

“[Teaching and coaching] were totally the same to me,” explained Travers “[In school] we tend to focus and dwell on the people doing well, whereas I thought in coaching you focused on everybody. So, I thought everyone was important. There’s an expression [in coaching] – you’re only as good as your weakest player. Well, I kind of took that as a teacher. I was always concerned that everybody was doing well.”

When teaching his athletes, Travers had the ability he had to see his students in a different light, a way he never saw them before. In the same way, Travers realized that his student athletes saw him differently as well.

“I thought it was very beneficial on all levels – from [a] coaching [level] to a personal level,” described Travers “I really felt like I got a different perspective of all of my players. My appreciation for all of my players and their ability increased because I had them as students.”

In 1981, Travers left North Catholic, but he continued teaching and coaching at Bishop Egan High School. While there, he not only taught math and coached football, but he was also the adviser of the Mathletes and the math department chair.

Despite his solid job at Bishop Egan, when the football head-coaching position opened up at North Penn in the spring of 1985 Travers pounced on the opportunity. After an extensive interview process, Travers was offered the job.

When he was first on the job, it all seemed normal, just like the positions he held at the other schools. The beginning of the 1986 school year, however, proved to be rough for him on both the teaching and coaching spectrum.

“Back in those days, if you didn’t have a teacher’s contract, then you didn’t go [to work]. So, Labor Day comes, and [the teachers] didn’t have a contract, so we didn’t go to work. [Everyone] didn’t go back to school until the middle of October,” explained Travers “We had a terrific football team coming back, and we lost our first three games. It was a forfeit, but in our minds, we don’t forfeit what we don’t play. They told us on a Tuesday, after not practicing for a month, that we were going to play a game. So, we had to get ready. That strike year of ’86 was a tough year.”

Despite the rough year, Travers stayed with North Penn, and he continued to do what he loved.  Then, fifteen years later, Travers “shifted over to the ‘dark side’ with [his] degree in counseling, and [he] became a counselor.”

Before becoming a counselor, Travers was a math teacher at North Catholic, Bishop Egan, and North Penn High School.
Photo Courtesy of Accolade 1988
Before becoming a counselor, Travers was a math teacher at North Catholic, Bishop Egan, and North Penn High School.

The transition within the system proved to be easy, and that is due to his teaching history. Travers understood how to effectively interact with both students and teachers.

“I thought the advantage I had as a counselor is I had been a teacher. When students were complaining about a teacher, I could take it 50/50. When I first became a counselor, I had a relationship with most of the teachers, so it made it easier for me to go the teachers, and I think it made it easier for the teachers to come to me.”

Whether he was talking to a student, teacher, or other faculty member, Travers loved everyone he came into contact with. He credits his positive experience as an educator to all the people he met on his journey.

“The real positive things are the people you work with and your students,” said Travers “When I say people, I’m talking about everybody. [North Penn has] some great maintenance staff here, secretaries, parent volunteers, and kids. They have all been great. It’s all been good.”

When he leaves North Penn, Travers hopes to continue his involvement, educational or not, with young people, except he wants to do it on a volunteer basis.

“It’s not like I’m retiring to look for a job. I’m looking for something that I can do on my terms. [I want to go] somewhere that needs it. In other words, I’m not going to sit on my front porch and watch my life go by.”

More than anything, Travers loves that he’ll have a lot more time for family and for himself. With the recent addition of twins, Travers now has seven grandchildren to occupy his time. On top of that, he dreams to one year attend all men’s and women’s NCAA championship events – division one, two, and three.

Even if he can’t fulfill all of his hopes right away, Travers is excited to have a more lenient schedule, one that does not include returning to work in September.

“The day after Labor Day, when everybody is going back, at 8 or 9 o’clock I’m taking a beach chair, and I’m heading to the beach” joked Travers “I’m going to get out my cellphone, take a couple of pictures, and send them to everybody saying ‘hope you’re having as much fun as I am, and have a great day’.”

No matter how much he’ll be happy without a truly demanding job, Travers knows whole-heartedly that it’ll be a harder adjustment than any he’s dealt with in the past.

“[I’m] going to miss it, and [I] know that. Every place you ever go, you know you’re going to miss it, but you just move on,” said Travers. “[Plus], when you leave, it’s an opportunity for somebody else to come in and grow. That’s the way I look at it.”

Going back to the quote plastered on his first classroom’s wall, Travers said he would now have to modify it because “I was definitely in it for the long haul. It definitely was a good time. It was all good.”

Now that it’s coming to an end, Travers has had a substantial amount of time to reflect on his overall experience, and he realized that he wouldn’t redo any of it. He never saw teaching or coaching has an opportunity to win awards or recognitions, but rather he saw it as an opportunity to learn and develop as an individual.

“You measure [your experience] on the people you’ve met and the relationships you developed. You can’t put a price tag on that stuff. I wouldn’t change any of that.”