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School administrator to step down at year's end

January 23, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Two stories from early in Ted Rabold's career illustrated for him the difference educators can make in the lives of their students.

In one case, a student frequently asked Rabold, then a first-year teacher for emotionally disturbed children, what a woman co-teacher was saying. The boy had been diagnosed with a hearing problem, but Rabold said there was more to his situation.

"We discovered he could not hear women's voice range, but he could hear men, and I was his first male teacher," said Rabold, now the assistant superintendent for Pupil Services for the Chambersburg Area School District. That discovery "just turned his life around completely," he said.

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The other occurred a year later and involved a 15-year-old boy who had been labeled as mentally retarded. The boy had a talent for photography and Rabold helped him set up a darkroom at the school, where he then taught film processing to other students.

"I figured here's a way for him to shine and, boy, did he shine," Rabold said. It was enough to convince Rabold the student should be retested.

The test showed the boy was of normal intelligence, but his I.Q. had been incorrectly calculated when he was first tested years earlier, Rabold said.

"Every teacher can have an impact on a child, and you never know what that impact will be," said Rabold, who is resigning from his position when his five-year contract with the district ends in October. Rabold has spent 37 years as a teacher and administrator, including superintendent of the Tuscarora School District from 1982-99.

Rabold said his department oversees a spectrum of programs affecting hundreds of the district's 8,400 students, about 1,700 in special education alone. The department also supervises alternative education programs, psychologists and nurses, English as a Second Language, Safe Schools, homebound instruction and disciplinary issues "when it's gone beyond the school level," he said.

With the influx of non-English speaking students into the district, English as a Second Language has grown to include 400 students, Rabold said.

"When I first came here, it was 170," he said.

Disciplinary problems leading to the suspension or expulsion of students can usually be traced to their homes, but it is the district that too often has to deal with the child, he said.

"I think it's unfortunate when parents don't make their children take responsibility for their actions," he said. When it does fall to the administration, however, he said the district does more than hand out punishment.

"I try to treat them in such a way as I'd like to be treated, so they focus on what they did wrong rather than how they were treated," Rabold said. The goal is to help students understand the consequences of their actions and make better choices, he said.

Once such program is off-campus suspension, where students take classes at a district-owned facility near Letterkenny Army Depot. The discipline of the program is enough to make most students think twice about becoming a disciplinary problem at their regular schools again, he said.

"We have some frequent flyers, but kids get in there and they don't like it," Rabold said.

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