Principal Burton T. Hynes to retire from NP in September


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Mr. Burt Hynes, NPHS principal addresses the crowd during Don Ryan’s retirement ceremony on January 9th. Hynes will join Ryan in the ranks of retirement effective September 3rd, 2015.

Tara Sorman, Executive Editor

TOWAMENCIN – Entering North Penn’s main office, I catch a glimpse of Principal Burton T. Hynes’s typical day: over just a few minutes, I watch him make arrangements with his secretary, work through a situation of a field trip being delayed by an incoming snowstorm, and speak with a student about receiving an award, handling each task with an air of stately ease before squeezing in an interview and driving across town for a meeting.

This has been the daily routine for North Penn High School’s principal for the past twelve years, and, as he announced on Tuesday, this year will be his last heading up the massive high school’s administration. Hynes is set to retire on September 3rd, 2015, after a remarkable 41 years working in the district.

Hynes had his beginnings teaching at Pennfield Middle School for two years before moving to teach at the high school for eight. He then became an assistant principal for eighteen years, moved to Penndale as the principal for five, and, finally, became the principal of North Penn High School in 2003, where he has remained for the last twelve years.

After over four decades in the district, Hynes came to the difficult decision that it was time for someone new to take over at the helm of the high school.

“Presidents get at most eight years. I’ve been principal for twelve years,” said Hynes. “And schools are about ideas; they’re about energy, and it’s time for a younger person to take charge. It’s time for somebody else to take a different look at things and a different perspective, and I’m not getting any younger, so it was just time to retire.”

Hynes has overseen incredible changes at North Penn, driving renovations to facilities like the new swimming pool, expanding the international exchange program to France, Spain, and Japan, and watching technology take root in the form of computers, Smartboards, and iPads. But at the crux of Hynes’s time as principal has been the renewed commitment to student success.

“We’ve watched a real uptick in student achievement, and it’s because of some of the things we’ve done. We’ve had a heavy focus on students doing their best and continuing to get better. Our AP program has expanded incredibly, to the point that we’ve received national recognition from multiple magazines: Washington Post, Newsweek Daily Beast, and US News and World Report. We didn’t have that when I came back as principal.”

NPHS principal Burt Hynes congratulates Selma Robinson on her retirement last June. Hynes himself will retire in September.
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NPHS principal Burt Hynes congratulates Selma Robinson on her retirement last June. Hynes himself will retire in September.

The changes, said Hynes, have come about gradually, evolving with the school. Updates to the bell schedule in the form of nine period days have provided new opportunities for educational intervention and department planning for teachers, new programs like the JROTC have garnered massive involvement in the school and community, and a new College and Career Center has created the opportunity at almost all hours for students to access the resources necessary to map out their futures.

“If I told everybody in 2003, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do,’ there would have been a lot of people shaking their heads saying, ‘No, that’ll never happen,’ – but it has happened. And it’s happened because I’ve been fortunate to have a great staff. The staff has always been fully cooperative and enthusiastic, energetic – their goal has been the same as my goal: increasing student achievement. Getting young people to do their best, and maximizing their opportunities.”

While Hynes will undoubtedly miss his involvement at the high school, he has much to keep him busy at his small farm not far from the school, where he plans on finding himself busy maintaining his property and spending time with his wife. He looks forward to having time to himself in the evenings for the first time in over a decade.

“The homework that I have, the barrage of emails day in and day out, and the volume that has to be done: the paperwork, answering correspondences, reading correspondences, all of that really happens at night for me. The one thing I will not miss is that homework,” said Hynes.

But countless events and memories at the high school have and always will be dear to Hynes’s heart. Watching his students succeed year after year has been by far his most rewarding experience.

“Every year, graduation is probably the highlight of my year, because on graduation night, you feel a sense of accomplishment. I see young people who have worked hard, I see young people who’ve had a real struggle, but they’ve made it. And they’ve made it because either their counselors or their families or their teachers have supported them,” said Hynes. “There’s just an incredible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you’ve handed someone a diploma that says, ‘Yes, you’ve accomplished the goals that you’ve set out for.’ And the ones who’ve had the hardest time are the ones that you’re most proud of, because you know what a struggle it was for them. I have to say, they’re the best memories, and it happens every year, without fail.”

Over 41 years, Hynes has overseen North Penn’s many accomplishments, which have earned the school and district recognition on a wide scale. He has worked tirelessly to facilitate his high school’s improvements, achievements, and even its ventures onto the national stage.

“There’ve been incredible events along the way, whether you go back to the 50th anniversary celebration of the high school, or back in 2006, when we hosted a national student council convention…Also, in 2008, former President Bill Clinton was here, for the first time that we have ever had a President or former President of the United States on our property, on the school campus. Here was a man who had been at the helm of power for eight years in the White House, standing here talking to our students, our community, right on the front steps of our high school. It was just incredible.”

There is no doubt that as Hynes says his goodbyes on September 3rd and makes his own final steps from North Penn’s concourse, he will be recognized with the same respect. With a legacy of progress, recognition, and tremendous achievement behind him, Hynes has surely left an unforgettable mark within the halls of North Penn, as well as in the community and on countless students.