Few can 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 career selection. He has served in the military, the police force and at one point even considered mortuary science but fate finally landed him in a career in education.
A twelve-year veteran of education, this former Pennsylvania State Police Officer joins the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) from Lancaster County, where he served as principal of both the Willow Street and the Mount Joy Career and Technical Centers.
Katch,who also served in the Air Force and Army National Guard, will be stepping into the 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 will oversee that school’s move and transformation to the Chester County Technical College High School Brandywine Campus in Downingtown in September 2012. Schram is replacing Paul Karwaski, who retired this past June.
“With Mr. Katch’s extensive experience as a leader and instructor both in education and the military, we are very confident he is the perfect fit to succeed Seth Schram as principal,” said Dr. Alan Slobojan, CCIU director o fcareer, technical and customized education.
After earning his B.S. in Administration of Justice at Penn State University and serving five years on the state police force, Katch was promoted to instructor for the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC).
“That’s where I got the itch to teach,” said Katch. “From then on, I substitute taught the law enforcement program in Lancaster County career and technical centers (CTC) on my days off. It certainly peaked my curiosity, and I though tmaybe I’d like to teach after completing my state police career.”
And that is exactly what he did. The official start of his journey in education began in 1998, when he accepted the position of protective services instructor at North Montgomery County Technical Career Center. It was there that Katch helped 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 Dean of Students and Supervisor of Vocational Education at North Montgomery County Technical Career Center for three years and later as vice principal, and then principal at the Willow Street and Mount Joy Career and Technical Centers in Lancaster County.
“TCHS is the first prototype of a community college and high school combined partnership in the state of Pennsylvania and that’s what attracted me to the position,” said Katch. “I think this is truly where the future of education lies – affording students the chance for optimum exposure and opportunities for real world application – and I am extremely excited to be a part of that.”
A unique collaboration between the Chester County Intermediate Unit and Delaware County Community College (DCCC), the school is open to both high school students for career and technical training and college students pursuing associate degrees from DCCC. The campus is located in Penn Township and houses Chester County Head Start and special education preschool programs, and the CCIU Migrant Education program.
“Career and technical education presents students the opportunity to sample real life –but with safety nets,” Katch explained. “TCHS is a school of choice and for that reason, our students are more focused and more interested in what they are learning. With industry connections and dual enrollment college credits, the opportunities are endless.”
Principal Katch had his first day of school – TCHS-style – on July 1. With the dual guidance of assistant principal Frank Steidler and former principal Seth Schram, he is learning the ropes quickly.
“Mr. Katch has proven to be a go-getter with a lot of initiative,” said Schram. “He will continue to take TCHS on the cutting edge of curriculum, program delivery and program offerings.”
The former TCHS principal believes Katch’s greatest hurdle will be grasping everyone's role and function within the building. Even so, Principal Katch says he loves those daily challenges.
“Being principal is similar to law enforcement in that everyday is not the same, you always have a new opportunity to help someone or solve a problem,” he explains.“I’m looking forward to a great school year!”