Saying goodbye to Walt

NPHS security guard Walt Stachelek retiring effective Jan 11


After working 21 years in the district, Mr. Walter Stachelek will be retiring.

TOWAMENCIN — A new year brings us a new chapter in our lives. With this new decade and after 21 years working in the district, North Penn High School’s security guard Walter Stachelek will be retiring and starting a new chapter in his life on January 10th.

“I used to tell people, ‘I’m gonna work until the year 2020,’ and they would look at me and say, ‘well, it’s only the year 2000. You’re gonna work that long?’ and I said, ‘that’s what I’m shooting for,’ and that’s the way it worked out,’” said Stachelek.

Stachelek began his North Penn career at Penndale Middle School where he spent the majority of his time. Then he worked at Northbridge for 4 years and spent his last 5 years at the high school.

“[North Penn] was close by, and I had friends in the district. I also just love working with kids—I just love the students,” said Stachelek.

“The high school is a different world from the middle school and Northbridge because when you walk around the hallways here, you look in the classrooms, and everybody is at work, which isn’t the same in all of the other places I’ve worked. All of the students are at their desks working, or they’re all paying attention to their teachers. It’s a great difference,” explained Stachelek.  

“[Northbridge] was a small school, and I came in early in the morning and turned off the alarm. I would unlock the classroom doors. I don’t do any of that now. I would set up the cafeteria tables, take the trash out, put the flag up,” said Stachelek.

During his day-to-day schedule at the high school, Stachelek is constantly on his feet making sure that everything is running smoothly and safely for the students and staff.

“Early in the day, I make sure that all of the outer doors are secured and that nobody can get in except through the front entrance. I check students that I see around because you see them out in the hallway or in the benches somewhere, and I know that they’re not assigned to that spot. I try to get them to go to their class,” said Stachelek. 

In a school district, you’re pretty much busy all day; sometimes, it’s from the morning when you first come in to the end of the day, and the time really flies”

— Walt Stachelek - NPHS Security Guard

“In a school district, you’re pretty much busy all day; sometimes, it’s from the morning when you first come in to the end of the day, and the time really flies,” said Stachelek.

Every time he walks into the school, he looks forward to being in the atmosphere.

“There seems to be a togetherness with a lot of the students, not all because everybody has their own set of friends. I see them in different situations where they’re with other students, and they all seem to be able to work as a team doing whatever that needs to be done,” said Stachelek.

“I love the high school students. It makes me feel great when I go down the hall and they say, ‘hi, Walt,’ ‘How are you doing, Walt?’ They know my name. I just feel sorry that I don’t know all of their names,” said Stachelek.

Prior to working at North Penn, Stachelek was working in law enforcement as a police officer and a detective for 29 years.

“I went to business school, and when I graduated from business administration, I talked to my uncle and he said to me, ‘you don’t want to work in an office all day,’ and I was always interested in law enforcement, so I applied to Upper Gwynedd, and I got hired for the first place I applied to,” said Stachelek.

Stachelek loved his job as a police officer because of the impact he had on people. It made his job more admirable to himself and others.

“I didn’t make a whole lot of money, but I liked the feeling that I had an impact on a lot of people even when I dealt with people on a negative note. I still had an impact on them. Seeing people that I put in jail or seeing them out on the streets or seeing them in stores, they always welcome me and say, ‘hey, how are you doing?” and stuff like that—no hard feelings. I like to think that the way that I handled it has a lot to do with it,” said Stachelek.

“I was able to help a lot of people—people in stress—calm down and people with emotional and mental problems. In a lot of medical emergencies that I was involved in, people turned out to be deeply appreciative of me and my efforts. They would say, ‘you saved my father’s life’ and things like that,” explained Stachelek.

His workday was different each day depending on whatever came up. Most of the time, nothing much happened, but anything could’ve happened in an instant.

“Each hour is 59 minutes of boredom and one minute of excitement,” said Stachelek.

One thing he learned while working in law enforcement was to “never give up.” 

“A case is never finished until you solve it,” said Stachelek.

After moving on from law enforcement years later, Stachelek still misses working with the people he got to meet. 

“I miss the camaraderie between all of the people that I worked with because I got to see everybody in the department because we worked different shifts. Now they work long shifts, so you don’t get to meet everybody every day to find out what’s going on; you don’t have that interaction with the longer shifts. I miss the guys mostly—the guys I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with several of them here in the school district. I have breakfast with one guy every morning,” explained Stachelek.

Outside of his work, Stachelek has a wife named Connie who he has been married to for 57 years. They have a son, daughter, and 4 grandchildren.

As for hobbies, he collects car models such as Hot Wheels and Matchbox and he has been doing so for around 30 years. He has state police car models for every state. At this point, he knows that he has around 300 displayed, but he has more boxes that haven’t been opened yet.

“My wife said, ‘if you bring one more Hot Wheel home, it’s going right in the trash,” so I had to sneak them into the house. I have a giant display case, and then I have a lot that are still in the package. [My grandson] could never understand why he couldn’t take them down and out of the package and play with them. He had a big box of them that he could play with. There are special ones that I’m saving,” said Stachelek.

As his final days working at the high school come to an end, Stachelek will especially miss the people he encountered, and he hopes that they will remember him even after he leaves.

“I will miss all of the friends I’ve made, including the staff and just the people that I worked with in security. All of the people in the building—the kids—I’ll really miss them. I go to as many sports games as I can to support the teams. The kids just amaze me at what they can do. Not just the athletes but the musical programs and things like that. I always think, ‘last year was great, what are they gonna do next?’ And they always top it,” said Stachelek. 

“I just want students to remember me and have good memories. I’ve come across students out at the mall and some will say ‘hey Walt, how are you doing?’ and they’ll talk to me, and my wife would be with me and says, ‘who was that?’ and I would say, ‘I don’t remember their name, but he’s a student that I’ve dealt with at school.’ I always remember that,” said Stachelek.

His final message is to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Treat people with respect. That’s the only way you can get respect.”

— Walt Stachelek

“Treat people with respect. That’s the only way you can get respect. Sometimes it takes people a while to learn that. I’ve made friends with a lot of students that are hard to get along with everyone, and I’ve made friends who I have nicknames for them. It’s surprising how they’ve changed over the short time that I’ve been here and how they have changed their attitude or behavior. I just like to feel that I’ve been apart of that,” said Stachelek.