Humor                                                               Page 52


Leadership Lite


Daredevil Twice Over
As the veteran superintendent in Passaic, N.J., Robert Holster received an invitation to fly with the Blue Angels, the military’s elite tactical fighter-jet pilots. Passaic High School is home to a naval ROTC program.

On flight day, he traveled to Republic Airport on Long Island to receive a briefing from military staff. Then it was off to the wild blue yonder for Holster, who, once he recovered from the 60-minute flight, listed his favorite aeronautic experiences as flying upside down (a routine known as the “wheel barrel”), descending 400 mph at a 90-degree angle and flying faster than the speed of sound.

“I can now check off No. 1 on my bucket list,” Holster quipped.

He soon after tackled No. 2 on the list — scaling a four-story elementary school building alongside members of the Passaic Police Department.

Yukon Civilization
Thirty-five years ago, during his first month as superintendent of the immense Alaska Gateway School District, which borders the Yukon Territory, Spike Jorgensen was visiting a school board member to get acquainted with the area. The board member operated a roadside filling station along the famed Alaska Highway. A distraught tourist raced into the business and asked the board member to “please send the troopers” as he had spotted “an Indian carrying a gun” moving down the highway on foot.

The board member replied calmly: “Sir, if I send the trooper, there will be two Indians down there with guns!”

The encounter offered Jorgensen useful insight into his new whereabouts, where it remains common today for Athabaskan Indians to walk Highway 1 in search of grouse, ptarmigan, snowshoe hare, moose and caribou. The only difference now is that the highway is all paved.

Jorgensen still resides in Tok, the district headquarters, and serves as executive for AASA’s Century Club 100.

Never Unprepared
You can tell a lot about an organization’s leader by what sort of oddball items he or she keeps in the office.

In the case of Roger Bergia, who retired in June after 37 years as superintendent in Peoria Heights, Ill., the more unusual possessions, according to a farewell account in the Peoria Journal Star, were these:

  • a bag of dog food in a right-hand desk drawer (a dog owner was a periodic visitor);
  • two eyeglass repair kits (for inevitable breakage by students);
  • and an ample supply of corn kernels for popping and Diet Pepsi (for those who accepted Bergia’s open invitation for 3 p.m. snacks).

Some Exciting Vacation
During their spring break from school, two of Sen. Michael Bennet’s, D-Colo., daughters were spending their vacation week in Washington with their dad. But it wasn’t a vacation week for Bennet, who took along the two girls, Halina and Anne, on their first day to a meeting he had to attend in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s conference room.

“At one point, Dick Durbin elbows me in the ribs and points over to the corner,” relates Bennet, who spent almost four years as Denver’s superintendent before running for public office. There, he spots 6-year-old Anne holding up a sign she’d created for all to see, “I am board” (the spelling being a point of pride for the former school leader, he later joked).

At that point, Anne probably longed for a return to much more exciting times in 1st grade back home in Denver.




Short, humorous anecdotes, quips, quotations and malapropisms for this column relating to school district administration should be addressed to:
Editor, School Administrator
1615 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703-841-1543

Upon request, names may be withheld in print.


Give your feedback

Share this article

Order this issue