Mr. Sassaman’s classroom. Photo by Baybars Charkas.
By Baybars Charkas and Maddie Hobbs
William Sassaman, a math teacher at Manheim Township High School for 35 years, is set to retire from public education this year. Along with French teacher Dellawanna Bard, who taught for 45 years, 30 of which at Township, Manheim Township will lose 80 years of teaching experience.
Sassaman has worked in the math department, where he has taught algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. In addition, Sassaman was Manheim Township’s baseball team coach for 31 years until his contract was not renewed in 2015. Baseball is extremely important to Mr. Sassaman, and the loss of the coaching position left a void in his life.
As a child, Sassaman found fulfillment in teaching others something he already knew. At Muhlenberg High School, his alma mater, Sassaman played baseball and had a coach whom he greatly admired.
“He always seemed to be having fun. He was a social studies teacher and coached baseball in the spring. I always wanted to have what he had. I spoke to him about [being a teacher], and he encouraged me to consider the teaching and coaching career,” Sassaman said.
Sassaman is pleased with his teaching career. “It’s never really felt like a job,” he said. “I think you have to find something that you enjoy and can get paid for, and I’ve done that.”
Sassaman enjoys working with students and making them laugh. He endeavors to incorporate humor and find the middle ground between having fun and still learning.
According to Sassaman, students should strive to “find the happy medium:” to fulfill their full potential while still enjoying learning and life. He cautions against overstressing and focusing too much on grades. “No one is going to know, ten years from now, what my final grade in chemistry was. It is important that I take chemistry, but does it really matter if I get a 97 or an 87 or even a 77? Just work to your full potential, but don’t let it be the life-threatening moment that education can be.”
News of Sassaman’s retirement has saddened much of Township’s student body. Hope Boldizar, a sophomore, has Sassaman for trigonometry and pre-calculus.
“I’m very sad, to be honest,” Boldizar said. “I always wanted to have him for calculus next year and now I know I can’t.”
“He’s just so funny. Everything he does every day makes you forget that you’re learning… He incorporates funny aspects into his teachings that make you forget that you are learning,” Boldizar said.
Ties run deeper for Rachelle Impink, a geometry and trig/pre-calc teacher at Township. Sassaman was Impink’s mentor during her student teaching, during which he gave her advice that she continues to implement in her current classes.
“I’m very sad. I feel like we are losing a legend and a mentor to all of the math department,” Impink said.
Impink explained that Sassaman has been the “historian” of the math department, guiding thought and teaching new members. “When I became a teacher here, we sat down for hours and he shared with me his teaching wisdom.”
Kersten Harnly, a fellow math instructor at Township since the second semester of the 2017-2018 year, also commented. “We are all going to miss him.”
Along with Sassaman, Dellawanna Bard’s retirement will be felt across the school. Her thirty years at Township have helped shape both the French department at the school and the students that have come out of said program. She will be remembered fondly by those students, including Noelle Denlinger, a senior, and Natalie Schaeffer, a freshman.
Denlinger said that “Madame Bard is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had … I’m really going to miss her.” Schaeffer commented that “she always knew what she was doing, and was so nice to everyone, and I’m going to miss her.”
A colleague of Bard’s, Kerri Fredrick, said that “we’re definitely going to miss her, and I can’t imaging working here without her. It’s been a while, and I feel like I owe a lot to her.” Fredrick and Bard have worked with one another in the French department at Township for nine years, with Bard being her mentor.
Bard declined to comment on her retirement.
Sassaman will go on to teach part-time at Lancaster Country Day School and serve full time as the assistant baseball coach at Millersville University. Bard is retiring from education completely. Their impact on the student body and their service to the school are not to be understated. Their service to our school reminds us how much our teachers put in effort into developing the future leaders of the world. They will be missed.