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Superintendent won't stay behind desk

August 20, 1999

School Superintendent KonzalBy ERIN HEATH / Staff Writer

photo: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer




MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The new superintendent of Tuscarora School District said he has a lot of goals for his first year on the job. Staying in the office isn't one of them.

Since 57-year-old William Konzal succeeded former superintendent Ted Rabold on Aug. 1, he has spent most of his time at the six schools that make up the Franklin County district.

He has checked out the buildings and spoken to every staff member he can find, from the principals to the school janitors.

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"I'm looking forward to getting into some classes and maybe even doing a little teaching," he said. "Desk work is fine, but only to a point. The focus here has to be on the students."

Konzal, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., said he hadn't always planned on entering the field of education. After graduating with a science degree from Long Island University in 1962, he was drafted to work in a laboratory at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. Later he got a job at a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey. It was then, Konzal said, that his career path unexpectedly took a different turn.

His wife, Jean, had been working as a teacher at a New York City elementary school, and he agreed to give occasional science demonstrations for her students. The enjoyment he got out of giving the science lessons, he said, inspired him to pursue a job in education.

"Kids have the motivation," Konzal said. "It's wonderful to bond with them and see (education) happening."

So at age 30, Konzal got a master's degree in education from the University of Arizona. He taught in New York and Maine for about eight years before working his way up the administrative ladder, from principal to assistant superintendent to superintendent. Before coming to Mercersburg, Konzal was serving as a school superintendent in Erie, Pa., and working toward a doctorate in education administration.

"The challenge that you face as a superintendent is the ability to balance essential programs with the financial realities of the community," he explained.

Konzal said his goal for Tuscarora is to maintain a safe school district that is advanced in its curriculum and technology. He said he has begun plans to make sure the curriculum fits Pennsylvania's new academic standards, and he has also taken steps to start enhancing school safety.

"You don't want (a school) to become inaccessible, but you need a balance so that you know who is coming in and you can ensure the safety of the students and teachers," he said.

No matter what changes Konzal decides to pursue, he said he will make an effort to involve students and get their input.

"I don't think we access students enough," he said. "Students don't realize the kind of power they have to make societal changes."

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