Paul Gaeckler – Teacher, Principal, Mentor, Renaissance Man

9 Jan

A former classmate recently post a picture of Mr. Gaeckler who died a few years back.

Paul Gaeckler was my one true Renaissance teacher. For several years he taught 6th grade at New Freedom (PA)Elementary School and served as Principal he had a small office straight down the hall from his room on the second floor.

When they created Southern Middle School for all district – 6th and 7th graders he moved to teaching 5th grade and being the Principal at New Freedom Elementary. I had him as my teacher and mentor for 5th grade the last year he taught at the school.

We learned a lot that year academically, but also went fishing at Amy Leader’s pond, learned the positions and how to play football (inside the class room), he taught us great checker tricks – that summer I surprised and won my first game against a national checkers “referee”. (He was so shocked that he challenged me to a rematch of probably 20 more games – I did not win any of those, but still have bragging rights that I won the first one).

We learned how to oil paint – my landscape hung in my parents breakfast room for many years.

We had ping-pong tournaments, checker and chess tournaments, math competitions, learned to dance, and many more enriching experiences.

We had a race to see if he could do math on a chalk board faster than we could with a calculator, yes he won.

He played cassette tape recordings from his son who was serving in the Peace Corps, one time it capture the call to prayer shouted from a minaret. Just about 12 years later I also became a Peace Corps volunteer.

Mr. Gaeckler also explained to us how easy it was for Russia or China to spend say a $million to start another war in Southeastern Asia that would cost us $billions of dollars to fight.

At the end of our 5th grade year he decided to retire/leave Southern School District to take a teaching position in 6th or 7th District in Maryland because he thought they were better positioned to weather an economic recession. He was an amazing teacher and mentor.

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