Fewcan say their high school principal wore a badge, served in the national guard and was voted wittiest in high school, but Michael Katch is not like other principals. Katch,the newly appointed principal of Chester County Technical College High School(TCHS) Pennock’s Bridge Campus, knows first hand the challenges of careerselection. He has served in the military, the police force and at one pointeven considered mortuary science but fate finally landed him in a career ineducation.
Atwelve-year veteran of education, this former Pennsylvania State Police Officerjoins the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) from Lancaster County, wherehe served as principal of both the Willow Street and the Mount Joy Career andTechnical Centers.
Katch,who also served in the Air Force and Army National Guard, will be stepping intothe shoes of former technical college high school principal Seth Schram. Schram is taking over the operations ofthe Center for Arts & Technology Brandywine Campus in Coatesville and willoversee that school’s move and transformation to the Chester County TechnicalCollege High School Brandywine Campus in Downingtown in September 2012. Schramis replacing Paul Karwaski, who retired this past June.
“With Mr. Katch’s extensive experience as a leader and instructor both ineducation and the military, we are very confident he is the perfect fit tosucceed Seth Schram as principal,” said Dr. Alan Slobojan, CCIU director ofcareer, technical and customized education.
Afterearning his B.S. in Administration of Justice at Penn State University and servingfive years on the state police force, Katch was promoted to instructor for theMunicipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC).
“That’swhere I got the itch to teach,” said Katch. “From then on, I substitutetaught the law enforcement program in Lancaster County career and technicalcenters (CTC) on my days off. It certainly peaked my curiosity, and I thoughtmaybe I’d like to teach after completing my state police career.”
Andthat is exactly what he did. The official start of his journey in educationbegan in 1998, when he accepted the position of protective services instructorat North Montgomery County Technical Career Center. It was there that Katchhelped create an overwhelmingly popular police science program and was awarded“Teacher of the Year,” not once, but twice.
His experience as a teacher, led Katch consider a career in school administration. He began by serving as Deanof Students and Supervisor of Vocational Education at North Montgomery CountyTechnical Career Center for three years and later as vice principal, and thenprincipal at the Willow Street and Mount Joy Career and Technical Centers inLancaster County.
“TCHSis the first prototype of a community college and high school combinedpartnership in the state of Pennsylvania and that’s what attracted me to theposition,” said Katch. “I think this is truly where the future of educationlies – affording students the chance for optimum exposure and opportunities forreal world application – and I am extremely excited to be a part of that.”
Aunique collaboration between the Chester County Intermediate Unit and DelawareCounty Community College (DCCC), the school is open to both high schoolstudents for career and technical training and college students pursuingassociate degrees from DCCC. The campus is located in Penn Township and houses ChesterCounty Head Start and special education preschool programs, and the CCIUMigrant Education program.
“Careerand technical education presents students the opportunity to sample real life –but with safety nets,” Katch explained. “TCHS is a school of choice and forthat reason, our students are more focused and more interested in what they arelearning. With industry connections and dual enrollment college credits, theopportunities are endless.”
PrincipalKatch had his first day of school – TCHS-style – on July 1. With the dualguidance of assistant principal Frank Steidler and former principal SethSchram, he is learning the ropes quickly.
“Mr. Katch has proven to be a go-getterwith a lot of initiative,” said Schram. “Hewill continue to take TCHS on the cutting edge of curriculum, program deliveryand program offerings.”
The former TCHS principal believes Katch’s greatest hurdle will be graspingeveryone's role and function within the building. Even so, Principal Katch says he loves thosedaily challenges.
“Beingprincipal is similar to law enforcement in that everyday is not the same, youalways have a new opportunity to help someone or solve a problem,” he explains.“I’m looking forward to a great school year!”