In December of 2015 the CAT EYE PRSD team caught up with Mr. Penn.
For this week’s edition of TEACHER TUESDAY we decided to feature Mr. Carl Penn, who was one of the people who was hired prior to 1979 and was very influential in the planning of our district. We sat down and talked with Mr. Penn and here are the highlights of our conversation:
When were you hired at Pinelands?
I was hired as a consultant to set up the Library/Media program for Pinelands in August 1978. During this time I ordered the books, furniture and Audio Visual equipment. After a few months Superintendent Paul Snyder and Principal Clement Crea asked me to apply for the full time Library Media Specialist position. They hired me in December of 1978, for a July 1st 1979, start date.
What was your role in planning for the opening of the district?
The job of Library/Media Specialist included organizing and operating the Media Center and the Auditorium as well as setting up the district’s student and staff identification card system. All audio visual needs in the classrooms around the building were also coordinated through the media center.
I served on many committees such as: Thorough and Efficient education, Mission Statement, Short and Long range goals, Mascot, Song, School Colors, Pinelands Experience and school clubs/activities. When Mrs. Carol Martin, the new Media Clerk, and I moved into the media center on July 1st 1979, numerous students volunteered to help and this became the first Library Media Club. A lot of new equipment and 12,000 new books were waiting to be processed and set up for the staff and students. This group of students was invaluable to us and the administration in getting the building ready for the new staff coming on August 20, 1979. Plus there was much to be done for the subsequent arrival of the 7th to 11th grade students on Sept 5, 1979. This was a very exciting and rewarding time full of enthusiasm, hard work and dedication on the part of the students, staff and administration.
What are some of the accomplishments during your career?
In 1988 when I became Supervisor of Media Services, Mrs. Diane Tralka was hired as an additional Media Specialist and took over as advisor of the Library Media Club. It was excellent working with the students in this club and I still remember all of them fondly for all of their hard work and dedication.
I was also in charge of the stage crew for many years as Sound and Light coordinator for the auditorium. The work and dedication of these students also greatly impressed me. I had many students go on to work in professional theatre doing lighting and sound technician jobs.
I was the advisor of the National Honor Society for 20 years. Working with these students was extraordinary. Their service projects and the blood drives they organized were excellent. These students also assisted by being guides for the back to school nights and other school events.
Maybe my most important accomplishment was having the C-SPAN school bus come to our district in April 1994. This provided my video production class with insight on video production on a national scale. During their visit, Mr. Bill Scott and Mr. Jerry Clark from Adelphia Cable, predecessor of Comcast Cable, gave the administration and me the go ahead to have our own district cable channel. I had been working toward this goal for 8 years. From Eagleswood township down to Bass River all the school news would be ours. We were up and running by October 1994 and this cable media program was also an integral part in documenting the Pinelands Experience for as long as that program was implemented.
As a result of having a highly regarded Library/Media program at Pinelands, I was asked to be on the Central Jersey Regional Library Cooperative. This was a state agency overseeing Libraries and Media Centers regarding program and procedures.
What are some of your fondest memories from your time at Pinelands?
My fondest memories always have students and staff in them. I always enjoyed assisting students with research questions. Watching them grasp and understand a concept or locate a hard to find fact in a book or on the computer was inspiring.
Teaching the Video Production class about running a TV studio on a daily basis was also a fond memory. Every day something challenging came up for them to solve and learn.
Not only did I get to create the media center at the high school when it first opened but I also got the thrill of doing it again when the junior high building and media center were built and needed to be developed and staffed. Thanks to media specialists Mr. James DeCicco and Mrs. Leslie Karvan for all their hard work and assistance.
Assisting staff with new ways of demonstrating concepts to students through audio visual equipment or materials was also inspiring and enjoyable. As supervisor I was placed in charge of district in-service and mentorship of new staff, I was always trying to have innovative workshops. The staff was always appreciative of any and all efforts made on their behalf.
Imagine having the high school media center named after me. What an honor to find out this was a student driven event whereby they went to Mrs. Debbie Loomis and asked her assistance to make this happen. I am eternally grateful.
How do you hope you are remembered by the staff and students you worked with?
I hope they think of me fondly as someone who did his best to be there for everyone in the district. I enjoyed multi tasking and would find myself assisting a student one minute, videotaping a student activity the next, conducting a breakfast meeting with the Golden Age Club the next, and then climbing a ladder to fix the TV cable in the hallway so the classroom down the hall would have their TV set up working the following period. I do have to commend my long time secretary Mrs. Doris Kelly, subsequently Mrs. Maurie Lee and the rest of my staff for keeping me well informed and who always were there to assist me in making the Media program an integral part of the school district. As I look back on my career at Pinelands Regional, I was in the right place at the right time and thank the students, staff and administration for making it all possible.