Educator:

Skip Shoemaker.

School:

Radnor High School, where he is a guidance counselor and coach.

Achievement:

Shoemaker, 57, is retiring after 35 years. To celebrate, he threw his own retirement party May 16 at a Conshohocken restaurant, turning the event into a tropical-theme fund-raiser for the Radnor High School Scholarship Fund and the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.

Question:

How was the party? Any memorable moments?

Answer:

It went very well. We had a slide show of how the teachers had changed over the years - old yearbook pictures. Everyone seemed to like that.

Q:

Was the turnout good? Were students invited, too?

A:

About 230 people were there. There were current teachers, retired teachers, Radnor High School graduates, parents and community members in attendance.

Current students were not invited. We did not want the current teachers to be inhibited with their students there, if you get my drift.

Q:

What did a ticket cost, and how much money did you raise?

A:

Tickets were $20. We raised $3,000 for the Radnor Scholarship Fund, and collected seven boxes of donations for the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.

Q:

How did the idea for a retirement party/fund-raiser come to you?

A:

I am a member of the Philly Parrothead Club. The Parrothead Clubs are fans of Jimmy Buffett's music. Each club must do community service work to keep their charter.

Their slogan is "Party with a Purpose." I just thought it would be nice if we could do something like that for a group connected to Radnor. The scholarship fund was a perfect fit.

Q:

Why did you also support the Ronald McDonald House?

A:

Kelly Ryan, an English teacher, has been collecting in school for the Ronald McDonald House, so we just asked people to bring something to the party.

Q:

What roles have you held at Radnor?

A:

I started as a health and physical education teacher in 1973. I switched over to a guidance counselor in 1987. I have been the wrestling coach for 35 years, coached tennis for 15 years, athletic trainer for three years, and freshman soccer coach for three years.

Q:

Which sport have you enjoyed coaching the most?

A:

Wrestling has always been my passion. I think it teaches you an awful lot about yourself. It gives young men the confidence that they can go out and do anything. It also gets me through long, hard winters (I like the warm weather).

Q:

What kind of student were you? Did you always know you'd be a teacher and coach?

A:

Both my parents were teachers, and their friends were teachers, so I certainly knew the profession. I was an OK student - not great.

I went to Gettysburg College as a math major and changed after the first semester. The spring of my senior year, I applied for teaching and coaching jobs, and to graduate schools for physical therapy. I took the first thing that came along. Thanks, Radnor!

Q:

What are your most memorable Radnor moments?

A:

There have been many in coaching: three league championships in a row in wrestling (1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93); the undefeated season in wrestling (1991-92); the district team championship in tennis (1991); our state place-winner in wrestling (Brian Matthews, 1995); not to mention all the young men who grew into great individuals.

I still have a thank-you letter on my bulletin board from a girl who attempted suicide back in 1989. I think about her often, and hope that she is OK.

Q:

How will you stay involved at the school post-retirement?

A:

I plan to continue coaching for a short time. I have offered to do college recommendations in the fall for the juniors, thinking it is better to have someone who knows them write them, than someone they have only known for a short time.

I will also offer to work at any athletic event where they need help. And I will continue to go to many athletic events, concerts, plays, etc., supporting the students.

Q:

Have a mantra to live, teach or coach by?

A:

Always do what you think is right, not the easy thing, or the popular thing. The NCAA had a motto that activities are the other half of education.

At the high school level, I believe that teachers need to show the students that they support them, by attending the concerts, plays, athletic events, etc. That means a great deal to them, and helps develop a positive, caring relationship.

What the assistant principal says:

"RHS will be losing a person who always puts the needs of others in front of his own," said Jeff Smith, assistant principal at Radnor High School.

"He is extremely dedicated and loyal to the entire Radnor community. RHS will be losing an exceptional role model who has touched the lives of thousands of students."

- Shannon Hallamyer