Q&A with Tom Shaffer ’11 Ed.D.

Could you walk us through your career to this point?

Currently I am the superintendent/high school principal in the Bristol School District. I started out initially teaching at St. Mary’s Catholic School in St. Clair, PA. I taught English in grades 6-8. From there I went to All Saints Catholic School in Pottsville, PA where I was the vice principal. Then I became the elementary school principal in Shenandoah Valley. Then in 1990, I came to Bristol as the principal for approximately 15 years at Snyder-Girotti Elementary School. In 2005 I became principal of the Bristol Middle-Senior High School, and in 2011 I was made the district principal. In August of 2014 I assumed my current position.

You graduated from Immaculata in 2011. How did you come to Immaculata?

I actually started my doctoral program at Widener University, but I had friends attending a program at Immaculata who were very positive about the program so I transferred from Widener to Immaculata and was very happy with that. The quality of the staff and the students was exceptional, I thought. I received a great deal not just from the faculty, but from the networking that took place within the classes.

What do you do in your role as superintendent/principal?

I oversee all operations of the district. That includes working with the board of education, overseeing the administration, and overseeing the Business Office, the budget, and transportation. As principal of the high school, I oversee the curriculum and supervise the teachers. It’s a small high school with approximately 340 students.

How do you feel about the direction of education in America? How do you try to effect change in your schools?

I think right now it’s a very positive time for education, especially with the passage of the federal law “Every Child Succeeds.” It certainly gives us guidance as far as assessments for the quality of the schools, but it doesn’t give us the pressure of state testing. I think also that the current Pennsylvania Department of Education is moving in the right direction under our secretary of education. I think it is important to not just look at test scores, but to look at the whole child, including the environment he or she lives in. I have great faculty at all three schools who are able to do that.

What more do you wish to accomplish or achieve as an educator?

It is my goal to just make the Bristol School District the best district it can be. We have a lot to do, but we’re making a lot of progress.

How do you balance having the two positions?

I have good administrators who support me and very good personnel.

Author: aduncan

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