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Longtime teacher begins assistant principal role

Charles Robbins l Sports Editor

After 21 years of working as a teacher in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, sixth grade reading teacher Mike Rohrbach has replaced John Schaffer as assistant principal. Schaffer has moved up to the district office. 

“I’m really looking forward to connecting with a larger group of students and staff,” said Rohrbach. “All new jobs have challenges, I’m not sure what the toughest part will be, but I’m looking forward to embracing all the challenges that arise.” 

Rohrbach spent three years teaching in the Lebanon School District before moving to Ebenezer Elementary, where he taught for 17 years. He then taught at the middle school for four years. 

“The unscripted fun teachable moments is what I know I’ll miss the most,” said Rohrbach. “When an entire class is laughing, or singing, or somehow united together, working together towards a goal, and enjoying the experience of being together in the same space. The family atmosphere you get from being together in the same space, for the same amount of time every day for an entire year is not easily replicable.” 

Although he anticipates missing being in the classroom, so far he has been focused on the new job and has not thought about his teaching days that much. 

“Not yet, [I haven’t missed teaching] only because I’m so busy meeting with students, being in the hallway, trying to figure out what needs to be done, and I’m not sure I’ve had a second to think about what I’m not doing, I’ve just been more focused on what I am doing.” 

Rohrbach is a Cedar Crest graduate and his parents were both teachers in the district.  They both taught at the high school for over 30 years, his dad was a longtime economics teacher and social studies curriculum leader, and his mother was a business teacher and head of the department as well. 

“I remember as a high school kid working summer soccer camps at Cedar Crest and Elco, and enjoying working with kids,” said Rohrbach. “My parents were both in education and thought it might be something I would be good at and helped push me in that direction.” 

As well as being involved with education, Rohrbach has been involved in Cedar Crest sports for a long time as well. He was a basketball coach for 10 years and head varsity tennis coach for 21 years. 

“I think the relationships I’ve developed with guys throughout the years I’ll miss the most, the van rides, the team atmosphere, all the places tennis takes us,” said Rohrbach. “Getting to help guys reach their potential on the court and seeing players and teams have success on and off the courts as they graduate and move on has been amazing and I’ll definitely miss that. I hope to stay connected to tennis through our community and as a volunteer when I can.” 

Rohrbach always saw being a principal as a potential goal, but acknowledges that he had some great mentors to help make that goal a reality. 

“I had some great mentors and professors as I worked through the process of getting my Master’s degree and Principal certification,” said Rohrbach. “Seeing and learning about what it takes to be an administrator helped to make becoming a principal a goal.” 

Rohrbach has never taught at the high school level but has experience with high schoolers in his many years of coaching. He has some ideas of how he wants to be seen at the high school. 

“Each generation of students has unique challenges that face them in high school, yet at the same time the idea of students figuring out who they are, where they are going, how they can achieve their goals, and who is going to be beside them through the journey of high school is a challenge that crosses all generations,” said Rohrbach. “I hope I can be seen as someone the students trust; someone the students know is willing to help them embrace and overcome the challenges they face.” 

When outside of school, Rohrbach spends a lot of time with his daughters, but still finds some time to play sports. 

“I have three very energetic daughters, ages seven, four and two, so my time for hobbies is limited as I spend most free time hanging with them.  I occasionally still play tennis and love to golf when I get the chance,” said Rohrbach. 

Since Rohrbach is replacing Shaffer, Shaffer had some advice to give Rohrbach to find success at the high school level. 

“I would say be consistent,” said Shaffer. “Make sure that you listen, make sure that you hear what’s going on and understand what’s going on before making a rash decision is always something that you want to do.” 

Head principal Christopher Groff has been friends with Rohrbach for many years and finds that he has been a great addition to the administration so far. 

“He has been genuinely great so far,” said Groff. “He’s an intelligent guy and very positive; he has brought good energy to our administration team and has been great with the students.” 

Rohrbach prepared for and predicted a lot of the challenges he was going to face as an administrator, but there are still some things which even he did not expect. 

“I felt prepared for a lot, but yesterday we chased a squirrel out of the building,” said Rohrbach. “That was not in admin 101. So there’s lots of things I anticipated; I never anticipated chasing a squirrel out of the building. That was definitely the most unexpected challenge I have faced so far.” 

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