A Day with Dr. Dietrich

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A Day with Dr. Dietrich

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Most high school students know what their day will look like when they turn off of Valley Forge Road each morning, but for Superintendent Curt Dietrich, every day brings new adventures and challenges. Every morning, he takes a number of phone calls and responds to numerous emails, but after that, Dietrich could have obligations at the ESC, visit a school, or head out to a meeting.

When I spent the day with him this past Tuesday, he started the morning off with phone calls to North Penn Custodian Christina Hazzard, and Members of staff for State Senator Maria Collett and Representative Steve Malagari.

Then, he headed across the ESC to a meeting with HR Director Cheryl McCue. The pair discussed upcoming interviews to fill an assistant HR Director position. Dietrich approved the idea to move forward with the process, and the two then talked about an upcoming meeting with elementary and middle school principals, to discuss staffing needs for the 2019-2020 school year.

Soon after, Dietrich was joined in his office for a brief catch-up with School and Community Engagement Director Christine Liberaski to talk about the difficulties caused by intense winds the day before. 4 cars had been damaged by a downed tree at North Wales Elementary, and Kulp Elementary had to rely on a generator for most of the day.

Dietrich then met with NPSD Chief Financial Officer Steve Skrocki to discuss grants aimed to test out propane fueled buses in the district. Propane buses are more eco-friendly than the diesel powered buses currently in use, but significantly costlier, so the grants will cover approximately 50% of the cost. A small group of North Penn buses tested out propane buses recently, and the drivers reported less rowdiness and overall better behavior by the students. Propane buses are quieter, leading students to be less inclined to make excess noise.

Around 9:45, Dietrich headed out to one of the ESC’s conference rooms to prepare for his live shot on the February edition of North Penn Right Now. Dietrich interviewed Dr. Betty Santoro, Director of Elementary Education, and Jennifer Toften, Registrar. Families with incoming kindergarteners were registering in the background of their live shot, and the trio spoke about how the process works, and how they think the implementation of full day kindergarten will affect registration.

There was no post-live shot break, because immediately after the interview, we headed to Assistant Superintendent Todd Bauer’s office to watch the rest fo North Penn Right Now. At the conclusion of the show, Dietrich and Bauer sat down to discuss a number of upcoming events, including Bauer reading to kindergarteners at York Avenue Elementary for Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and a meeting with PA. State Rep. Todd Stephens.

Dietrich tries to visit at least one school every day, so around 10:30, we walked across the field to Penndale Middle School. Dietrich spoke briefly with Assistant Principal Annie Robbins, then sat down for a discussion with Penndale Principal Sean O’ Sullivan. They discussed how the Penndale musical, Guys and Dolls, is progressing, and how the staff is feeling about the possibility of a 9th grade center. Then, Dietrich walked through an 8th grade lunch, talking to  several groups of students to get their opinions about the 9th grade center.

“Talking to students is so beneficial, because they can tell me whatever they want. It is a great way to get unfiltered reactions,” remarked Dietrich.

After the impromptu student discussions, we walked through the hallways to chat with a number of teachers, including Mrs. Klenk, Mrs. Neu and Mme. Gumbert.

Before we headed back to the ESC, Dietrich and I popped into the food lab to speak with the FCS teachers; Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Kenney, and Mrs. Wydra-Gat. We spoke about the temperature regulation in Penndale(the food lab becomes sweltering by June), the possibility of a new 9th grade building, and what the future of FCS may look like.

Soon after, we headed back to the ESC for Dietrich’s weekly lunch meeting with Liberaski. The two discussed a wide range of upcoming North Penn events, including the beneficiary of the Brandon McManus grant, the annual Retirement Dinner, recent lead testing of water in all North Penn facilities, Black History Month oratorical competition, and upcoming community discussions being held by the Safe Schools Committee. Dietrich and Liberaski also talked about an elementary school case, where a teacher did not allow the selling of Girl Scout Cookies in their classroom. The North Penn School Board’s policy was reviewed during the meeting, and there is no rule that either prevents the student from selling cookies or prevents the teacher from not allowing it.

After a brief period of time of no meetings, Dietrich headed right down the hall to talk to the other Assistant Superintendent, Jenna Rufo. I could not sit in on this meeting, however, because they two were discussing a more private topic.

Although the day seemed hectic to me, who is used to typically staying put for at least 43 minutes at a time, Dietrich never broke a sweat.  In fact, as my day with him ended, he still had to head to North Penn High School for an interview with Sameera Rachakonda, The Knight Crier’s Editor In-Chief.

Way back when, Dietrich started out as a school board member, and began to take an interest in administration once ‘he saw how it all worked’. Now, he is in North Penn’s top position, and loving every second of it.