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may 6, 2008




Principal’s peers reflect on his years as an educator Katie Park editor-in-chief Although students may see Principal Richard Bartels as just an imposing figure in the courtyard, many faculty members know a different side of the man. Behind the stiffly ironed shirt and the intimidating personality is a man who jokes with and cares about his faculty and students. Social studies teacher Carolyn Gritsch has known Bartels since 1977, when they were students at the University of South Florida. “I knew him when he actually had hair,” she said. Bartels obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Tampa in 1970. He and Gritsch attended several classes together while he was earning his master’s at USF. Bartels taught history at a junior high level from 1970 to 1979. “I substituted for him when he was a teacher at Greco [Junior High] School,” Gritsch said. Gritsch says that one of the reasons she chose to teach at Freedom was that Bartels let her start a law program. “He said, ‘What do you want to teach?’ and I said law,” she said. “He’s been absolutely wonderful—he’s backed every single thing I’ve wanted to do.” Principal’s secretary Julie Kubecka has worked with Bartels since 1987, when he was the Assistant Principal for Curriculum (APC) at Bloomingdale High School. “I’ve worked for him for 20 years,” she said. “That’s half of my life.” [carolyn When Kubecka first met Bartels, however, she was intimidated by his businesslike persona. “I thought he was the rudest man I’d ever met in my entire life!” Kubecka said. “He just wasn’t friendly. He was very professional, everything was about business. There was no laughing or joking like we do now.” Kubecka had been working for Bartels for at least six years before he remembered to say goodbye to her before leaving. “He would walk in in the morning and walk out in the afternoon and never say anything,” she said. “After six or seven years working with him, I finally said, ‘I would appreciate it if you said goodbye!’” Kubecka says that after that, Bartels would leave work, then turn around and remember to say good night to her. Gritsch also had a less than favorable first impression of Bartels. “He was very sure of himself—extremely sure of himself,” she said. Kubecka agrees, repeating one of Bartels’ favorite

sayings: “I was wrong once. But then I was wrong.” “If he wasn’t sure, he didn’t show it. In 20 years, he’s always been sure of himself,” she said. Over the years, however, both Kubecka and Gritsch have grown to respect Bartels as both a friend and colleague. “I was not an admirer of the great man in the first years I knew him,” Gritsch said. “Now I think he’s one of the best principals.” Kubecka says that Bartels’ personality has many sides that people may not recognize at first. “His bark is worse than his bite,” Kubecka said. “He comes off as so tough, but he’s such a caring person. The longer you work for him, you realize what a caring person he is.” Kubecka recalls an instance when she saw the warmer side of Bartels’ personality. She had been working for Bartels for eight years when her first son was born. Bartels came to visit her and the new baby. “There was a knock on the door, and he stood in the doorway with a big teddy bear,” she said. “He’s this big, huge man, so intimidating.” Bartels served as Assistant Principal for Student Affairs at East Bay High School from 1984 to 1987, then became the APC at Bloomingdale High School until 1998. He worked as APC at King High School for one year before becoming principal in 1999. Social studies teacher Owen Self gritsch] has known Bartels for ten years. He says Bartels is the main reason he came to work at Freedom. “Mr. Bartels has always had a reputation of being a no-nonsense administrator,” he said. “He gets the job done. He expects students and teachers to get their jobs done.” Gritsch describes Bartels as “old school.” She and Self both recognize that change will come with the new principal. “For every principal that comes in, there’s always going to be something different,” Self said. “There’s not ever going to be two principals who are exactly alike.” In retiring, Bartels leaves behind both professional and personal relationships. “This is like a divorce for me,” Kubecka said. “I’m going to be here, while he’s going to experience a new life…. I’m being left behind!” Self says that he hates to see Bartels leave, but that the new principal will bring interesting changes. “Next year,” he said, “We’ll just have to tune in and see.”

“I knew him when he actually had hair.”

Richard Bartels’ career from start to finish

Bartels spent the early part of his career as a social studies teacher at various middle and high schools. He was the principal of King High School before opening Freedom in 2002.

photograph taken by Daniel Wang

photograph graphic editing by Logan Firth

old pictures of Mr. Bartels courtesy of Chris Alexander

Changing of the Guard - Volume 6, Issue 7  

Front Page Story: New Principal Chris Farkas is to replace reitiring principal Richard Bartels. Original Publication Date: May 6, 2008

Changing of the Guard - Volume 6, Issue 7  

Front Page Story: New Principal Chris Farkas is to replace reitiring principal Richard Bartels. Original Publication Date: May 6, 2008