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Picture Idea: A picture of Dr.

Gerhard, possibly him in a scene where he is

helping someone or communicating with teachers
Word Count: 916
Draft/Issue: 5
Tying the School Community: Adventures of Dr. Gerhard
by Junie (Ye Joon) Kah
Having held the position of the principal in numerous schools including places like
Sierra Leone, Myanmar, and Thailand, Dr. James Gerhard has experienced many
distinct cultures. As a result of his travels, he has come to realize that there is one
thing that is common among all schools: great infrastructure is not as essential as a
strong sense of community to provide a quality education. All a great school needs is
support for faculty members and students who are striving to create a strong-knit
Raised in North Port, New York, a harbor town, Dr. Gerhard developed a love for
sailing and the outdoors. Even to this day, Dr. Gerhards hobbies involve the ocean
and outdoors, in which he loves to mountain-bike and jet-ski. His outgoing
personality helps him interact with others.
Although he did not originally want to become a school principal until later on in his
life, he realized his love for children and bonding with others at a young age.
Nonetheless, he was an economics and government teacher before becoming a
principal, and was already a part of a school community. However, what helped him
the most to become more closely affiliated with schools was when he started coaching
the sports teams in the schools he taught at.
Coaching made me realize how much I love being around children, said Dr.
Gerhard. Sports really made me involved in school as it made me a member of the
school community.
For Dr. Gerhard, although many of the institutions he has taught have been highly
prestigious and in economically developed countries, he has also taught in many
without the proper facilities. What triggers him to go to such a diverse range of
countries from Dominican Republic to India was his passion for traveling. To date,
Dr. Gerhard has travelled to over 60 countries worldwide.
Every school Dr. Gerhard has been to all had a very special and unique culture, but
the one thing that tied the schools and students together was a close school
community. Although educational facilities in places like Sierra Leone were not the
greatest in terms of infrastructure but because the students tried their best to learn and
the teachers tried their best to teach, it gave a great education to the students.
During his stay at different schools, Dr. Gerhard has been not only tied to the school
community but also the local community where he frequently went out and helped the
locals. Dr. Gerhard strongly believes that being an active member of any community
is important, whether that be in school or outside where he was given the chance to
bond with the locals.

I always tried to create opportunities, not just for the children at the school I was at
but also the people in local areas. In every country I was at, I would try to have helped
the local school, knowing how privileged we are compared to them, said Dr.
Gerhard. I realized that even without phones and computers, kids are still very
When Dr. Gerhard was in the Dominican Republic, there were people in the local
community who could not sustain themselves economically. He and an acquaintance
worked together to help the children who all enjoyed playing baseball. However, for
them, playing baseball meant using a stick as a bat and a rock as a ball. Therefore,
with new baseball equipment he received from the United States, Dr. Gerhard
travelled to the poorer communities and donated the valuable equipment to the
children so that they had real baseball bats, gloves, and balls.
Helping children and people in general makes me really happy. Things like
community service make us better people, Dr. Gerhard said.
Interacting with the locals gave Dr. Gerhard a chance to think about the fact that even
for the locals, what bounds them together are communities. Learning from his
experience with the local community, in any school he is at, Dr. Gerhard strives to
reflect the aspects of a strong-knit community in order to have students who are
caring and respectful of their peers.
High technology and good infrastructure is definitely a helpful aspect in educating
students but helping them to acquire the passion for learning and creating a good
school community is more important. His goal at SIS specifically is to make a real
community where people care about each other and also make a place where students
can enjoy good education through the collaboration of the teachers and other faculty
members. According to Ms. Choi, the high school secretary, she notices that Dr.
Gerhard tries to participate in the school community as much as possible, which
probably helps the students understand the value of community: most students tend to
I also believe that the school community is important. Although we are all different
and unique people, the school community is what connects all of us together. Elliot
Kim (9) said.
Dr. Gerhard is grateful to be given the chance to administrate at different institutions
for over 10 years. Although administrating at institutions that are in a less developed
country is a challenge for most teachers and administrators, Dr. Gerhard feels that the
strong sense of community and the care he received from everyone he met made his
experience very valuable.
I always feel sentimental about leaving any school. I will never forget the
experiences I had at each school because all of the schools I was at, everyone was
kind and caring. It is hard to forget such nice experience and nice people, Dr.
Gerhard said.