Andover resident Ken Seifert was superintendent of schools from 1969 to 1991. He has started a regular column in which he will answer educational questions, write about life, raising children, his time leading the Andover schools and, sometimes, compare events and approaches of the past to those used today. Here, he writes about one of his last days on the job in Andover.
If every retiring superintendent could experience what I did as my career in Andover was ending they would know the essence of job satisfaction. I can relive almost every moment.
Phil Wormwood, the high school principal and my fishing buddy, called and told me not to plan anything on a certain day a few weeks away, and not to ask questions. I hung up and asked Mrs. McNally, my secretary, "What's up?" With a straight face she said, "Dr. Seifert, I really don't know."
A couple of typical weeks later I was twiddling my thumbs, when a school bus appeared. It was driven by one of my best friends, Rino Tacconi. Out jumped Mr. Wormwood, who said we were going to visit the schools. I had no idea of what was to unfold. There were very few things that happened in the schools about which I didn't know something. Besides, my friend, the very loyal Mrs. McNally, normally would have given me a heads up as she had done on hundreds of occasions in our years together. The CIA could not have done a better job on me.
The students and staff had planned a schedule. I visited each school and by the end of the day had been face to face with every student and staff member in the school system. Each school had different scripts that related directly to my personal life and some of my tendencies as superintendent. One school did a skit regarding snow days in the Andover Schools. The students really loved the actors telling me I was a very insensitive man to the many days they had to brave the elements when other towns were more sensible. I would always tell them, "You don't like me now, but you will love me in June."
When the bus pulled up to the West Junior High, on schedule, Mr. Hart, the principal, met me with his school band. As we walked through the halls they played "There's No Business Like Show Business." At administrative council meetings I would sing a few bars of that tune when the going really got rough. At various times when the press was on my case, I would get a call from Mr. Hart, who would sing the song and hang up. The staff and students were lined up in the halls as I said my final goodbyes. And the band played on.
One school had a special chair center stage in the school auditorium, which was packed with students and parents. The staff, parents and students walked me through the years. I was touched by the level of detail.
After visiting every school, I was driven back to my office. Mr. Wormwood said, "Time to get off the bus, school's over." I choked up as I shook Rino's hand. When I entered my office, Mrs. McNally had a smile on her face.
That evening there was a going away party sponsored by all the school groups at the Old Town Hall. I don't know if they had to pay a fee.
I was privileged to have been superintendent of schools in a great town. The staff and students had made it a most satisfying ride. A few weeks later I emptied my desk and made way for the next lucky person to have that honor.