Principal Ted Mucellin honored at surprise school-wide celebration
Sitting amidst a sea of mustaches in the Hereford Elementary School gym, it was hard not to see the impact Principal Ted Mucellin has had on his students.
Hundreds of children and teachers donned bushy, polished and handlebar-style mustaches in honor of Mucellin, a much-loved and well-respected educator and administrator, Monday afternoon during a surprise retirement celebration. Mucellin served the Upper Perkiomen School District for 27 years and retires this month.
In recognition of his fondness for fishing and local sports, staff asked Mucellin to sit in a kayak with a vintage Philadelphia Eagles helmet on in the middle of the gym during the ceremony. He obliged, and was treated to a montage of songs by each grade level, musical performances and multi-media presentations marking both his life and his career at Hereford.
His wife, daughter, mother and father were all on hand to take part in the event.
People couldn’t say enough about the 20-year principal, who served as a teacher and assistant principal in Allentown before becoming assistant principal at Upper Perk Middle School in 1986.
“I don’t know where to start,” said Lisa Greco, a first-grade teacher, of what makes Mucellin a great principal. “It’s his lovingness for the kids, for every single student. He cares about each one. His humor – he makes the kids laugh; and he loves his job. He enjoys being here every day. Looking at all this you can tell.”
First-grader Aidan Keyser said he will always remember Mucellin “doing fun stuff for us at Christmas and Family Fun Night.” Fellow first-grader Skyler Robinson said she liked his affinity for fun ties.
Administrative assistants Donna Gaugler and Sherry Kile, who are also retiring, worked alongside Mucellin for 20 and 15 years, respectively.
“He always put the kids first and he just cares so much about them,” they both said. “The children love him because he values them. He made learning and the atmosphere at our school fun.”
“We were always a team from the custodians to the cafeteria staff, we were always a team,” Kile added. “He’s just a special guy. We’ve been very blessed to work for him.”
Laura Wismer, who first met Mucellin as a parent and later came to work as a nurse at Hereford, said, “He was all about students, anything and everything for the students…He made learning fun. He inspired them to do their best. As a staff member I couldn’t have asked for a better principal. He has tremendous shoes to fill. While we will welcome the new principal with open arms, he (Mucellin) set the standard very high.”
Upper Perkiomen Asst. Superintendent Dr. Fran Leskowicz noted Mucellin has always been well-liked, personable, and kid-oriented, in addition to being very musically-talented.
Mucellin put those talents on display Monday during a portion of the program which saw teachers perform as a band and later as an Eagles cheerleading squad. He was given a trumpet to disrupt the cheers of two teachers dressed as Dallas Cowboys fans.
During a video presentation, Mucellin was pictured during what he will be remembered most for – connecting with and encouraging kids in their education and beyond. He was seen wearing a variety of costumes, including a clown, devil, Cat in the Hat, a detective, Santa, SpongeBob SquarePants, a werewolf and Benjamin Franklin. He was also depicted rollerskating and planting trees with kids, as well as doing the various stunts he performed after challenging his students to tasks, including camping out on the school’s roof and playground.
In interviewed segments, students said they appreciated Mucellin most for being really funny, making learning fun and acknowledging their hard work. During another interview, which gleaned some tears from the principal, a student excitedly remembered, “I got a good bus report and he pointed that out to me and he said, ‘Good job!’”
The kids said they expected Mucellin to spend his retirement “sitting around drinking iced tea,” “doing his taxes,” “sitting in a comfy chair, reading a book,” and “sitting in bed snoring really loudly.”
As for his real plans, Mucellin said he will take the summer off to relax and spend time with his family before getting back into working with children.
“They are such a joy to work with and have been my fountain of youth for so many years,” he said. “I will need to keep working with and enjoying their eagerness to learn!”
Mucellin was given baskets of several hundred plastic Easter eggs, in remembrance of calling his students ‘chickadees,’ each one containing a handwritten note from a student. The Hereford Quilters also gave him a “Forever Hereford Proud” reversible quilt they made. Staff presented him with a bench for the pavilion area in his honor and a plaque, naming the pavilion “Mucellin’s Eagle Nest.”
Mucellin had a hard time keeping the tears from flowing at the close of the event.
“Thank you for today. I will never, ever, ever forget it,” he said. “How do you forget something you love so much? I went into education 37 years ago and I tell people that I feel like Peter Pan. I didn’t have to grow up because, for 27 years, I got a new class of chickadees each year.
“You are just great; you are our future and I’m so proud to be a part of your future. You make me Hereford proud and you always will.”