Dr. Timothy Kirby, after seven years at the helm of the Upper Perkiomen School District, announced June 23 he will be retiring January 2.
Kirby has a contract through Aug. 9, 2014 but said a handful of factors drove him to the decision to retire early. Aside from the changing dynamic of the school board, with several new members ushered in in December, he said he felt the district is approaching a time when its next vision is needed. He noted it made little sense for him to establish that focus and not be around to see it through.
“It seemed like a good time for a new superintendent to take office with the new board so that they can help chart a path together right from the outset,” he explained.
Additionally, Kirby said he needs and wants to focus more on his family, both immediate and extended. During the school week he lives about 50 miles away from his wife in Upper Hanover Township. Several of his siblings have also had recent health problems.
Kirby said he truly appreciated his time at Upper Perk and the progress the district has made while he served as superintendent.
“The wisdom, intellect, passion and talent of those in Upper Perk is unmatched in my experience,” he said. “When you combine it with solid middle-class values, it made this position the best I ever had. I was accorded both great expectations and great respect – and that is always going to be a winning combination.”
While he is humble about taking credit for what the district has achieved under his leadership, those accomplishments are impressive according to industry standards. The district has made big advances in student achievement, including increased PSSA, PVAAS, SAT and Advanced Placement scores.
Upper Perk also put a new time and scheduling model into use in 2008, which school officials said heightens teacher collaboration and academic rigor. Graduation requirements were raised and an emphasis on the arts spawned an orchestra, an annual musical and an Arts Festival Week. Overdue facility upgrades were also completed on time and under budget and a summer academy program for teachers was established, improving what teachers deliver to kids in the classrooms.
Kirby said he hopes to spend part of his retirement improving his golf game and traveling. Above all, he said he wants to keep family first and continue the tradition of having his home as the hub of activity for his extended family, which has a total of nine grandchildren under the age of four.
While they both love the Upper Perkiomen Valley, Dr. Kirby said he and his wife, Sue, who were married in October, will move to her home in southern Delaware County. But he will be a regular visitor in the area as his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter live in the district.
Unofficially, district officials said they thought Kirby would be retiring in June 2012 but understood why he felt the need to leave his position sooner. They said he will be missed greatly.
“I have served public education as a teacher, administrator and board member for almost 40 years. During that time I worked with a number of superintendents and I must say Dr. Kirby is the best,” said Upper Perkiomen school board President Harry Quinque Monday.
“Without a doubt, Dr. Kirby’s vision and leadership has moved the district into the 21st century…He has demonstrated integrity, character and values as he conducted himself in carrying out school district business. Dr. Kirby will be hard to replace.”
Quinque said the school board will meet in late July to discuss their options to find Kirby’s replacement.