Retired local educators in the Lycoming County Chapter Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees (PASR) gathered recently at a luncheon as they celebrated two major milestones.
While PASR turns 75 this year, it also was an opportunity to honor Paul Warnick, former Williamsport Area High School principal, who turned 100 years old.
Phil Thomas, a 1961 WAHS graduate who later returned to teach under Warnick, said he learned a lot from the former principal.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Carol McMurray, right, presents a $750 scholarship to recent Hughesville High School graduate Shawna Johnson, daughter of Dale and Sonya Johnson, of Hughesville.
"Yes, he was my boss, but in a real sense he was my mentor," Thomas said.
Thomas went on to tell about Warnick's career, which started in Navy. Thomas said Warnick taught air navigation to dive-bomber pilots.
At his first teaching assignment in Penn Township, Warnick did a little bit of everything.
"He taught math. He taught science. He taught (physical education) and it went on and on," Thomas said.
After accepting a teaching position in Williamsport, he soon got a knock on his door to inform him he would be the new dean of boys.
In 1962, he became principal.
Thomas also told the story of inviting Warnick a month ago to the event.
Thomas decided to call around 7 p.m., so he wouldn't get Warnick out of bed.
When Warnick answered, he told Thomas he had just caught him. Thomas figured Warnick was going to bed.
"No, tonight is my card night. I was heading out," said Thomas, remembering Warnick's response.
With PASR celebrating 75 years, the local chapter thought it would be nice to share stories about education when they were teaching and how it differs today.
"What better time to reflect on these times we spent in education and how things used to be," Thomas said.
Ann Dinges, a former WASD teacher, remembered the 1968 school year because she was pregnant. She said there were no such thing as leaves of absence during that time for anyone and so she would have to resign from her position as her due date approached.
The district decided that since her student teacher would graduate in December and she wasn't due until the spring, the student teacher would take over.
Also during that time, teachers weren't allowed to teach in maternity clothes, but since paperwork was backed up, she continued to teach right up to her due date.
"I have the distinction of being the first teacher in Williamsport Area School District to teach in maternity clothes," Dinges said.
Gertrude Wainger remembered her first job in teaching, almost 70 years ago.
"My first substitute job was in the '30s," She said.
Her class held first- and second-grade students in the same room. She said back then, teachers got a hour and a half for lunch break.
She said she enjoyed the job and still likes seeing her former students.
"It's always a pleasure to have people in their 70s come up and say they've had me in school," Wainger said.
David Michael, a former social studies teacher, said they all should feel lucky that they aren't trying to find a job now.
"I have to admit it was easy for me to find a (teaching) job," Michael said.