As Robert Walder strolled the hallways of Bordentown Regional High School in mid December, he felt a sense of nostalgia and comfort. The school is his alma mater and he spent seven years of his career teaching history in the building.
However, this time his role was different. Walder started as the new principal of BRHS on Dec. 17, after former principal Pat Lynch retired.
“He’s a legacy here,” Walder said about Lynch. “I’ve got big shoes to fill.”
Lynch, also a BRHS graduate, had been principal at the high school since 2006. Before then, he’d previously spent about a decade as a physical education teacher at the school, before he became the assistant principal, despite the fact that he did not yet have his administrator’s degree.
“They had faith in me to do the job to the best of my ability without a degree,” he said.
It was after he got his administrator’s degree that he was finally about to ascend the role of school principal. “What I’d most want to be remembered for is keeping the spirit of Bordentown alive,” Lynch said.
Lynch said that he would often tell students who were not doing too well that, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
Leading the way through many transitions during his tenure as principal, such as moving into the new school building, losing and gaining new supervisors, and cycling through three superintendents, Lynch was principal throughout a crucial time in BRHS history.
However, one of his proudest contributions was being a supporter of the school’s PBSIS—Positive Behavior Support in Schools—program. The program, which was established by a team of teachers and guidance counselors, encourages good behavior by focusing on rewarding students for good behavior, rather than punishing them for negative acts.
“I’m so glad to have supported it because it made such a great environment in the school,” he said.
Now, as leadership changes hands, Walder said that he is looking forward to improving the programs like PBSIS that BRHS has to offer. “We’re looking to build on the great programs that are occurring,” he said, emphasizing that what goes on in the high school has much bigger effects on students than what goes on in the middle school, where he previously served as principal.
“A lot of the decisions and the programs are bigger in consequence and scope because you’re preparing the students for the rest of their life,” he said. “All the great programs at the high school are keeping me busy.”
While Walder is transitioning from his former position as principal at Bordentown Regional Middle School to his role in the high school, he has floated around the district in his career serving as an administrator in every single building— from the elementary schools, to the middle school, and now, Bordentown Regional High School.
However, now Walder is focusing on the high school, and improving not only its sports and clubs, but also its academics. “It’s a high achieving school and we’re looking to make it a higher achieving school,” he said, noting that he looks forward to working with the students, teachers, and parents to bring BRHS even more academic success.
While Walder is working away in his office and classrooms, Lynch, 60, will be enjoying his retirement in South Carolina, where he owns a house. “Thirty-five years in education was a good piece,” he said. “I wanted to retire when I’m healthy and not burned out.” Lynch commented that, although he is just days into his retirement, he already misses the people.
“I hired a lot of people and thousands of students have gone through as I was principal,” he said.
Like Lynch, the new principal Walder agreed that the people that fill the hallways of Bordentown Regional High School make the experience all the more enjoyable. He is already familiar with many of the students, most of whom attended the middle school when he was principal.
From one principal to the next, the leaders at Bordentown Regional High School will continue to focus on improving the standards of education and quality of young adult that the school produces.