Kuhns retires leaving behind many satisfied students

By Staff Writer
April 27, 2006

Matt Schill

Mount Fuji is 12, 365 feet tall. It is snowcapped and located in Japan. Anyone in the elementary education program at Cabrini knows this by heart, thanks to one man, Mr. William Kuhns. He teaches his students mnemonics like this so that they can someday teach it to their pupils. Yet, most would agree that Kuhns has plenty else to offer his students here beyond mnemonic devices.

Kuhns has been a Cabrini faculty member for 38 years. He has certainly touched the lives of a countless number of people and will be missed when he retires this May.

Kuhns has taught a wide array of courses including his current reading and language arts III, audio visual aides in the classroom, educational psychology and science methods, just to name a few. He was actually asked to come to Cabrini to help expand the education department particularly in the specialty areas like audio visual equipment and science. Mr. Andy Litavec, who has known Kuhns as Willy since elementary school, is the reason Kuhns came here. Together, they built up the strong curriculum that Cabrini has in its education program and has help establish Cabrini’s reputation as a wonderful school for future teachers.

Kuhns now runs the student teaching program here at Cabrini. One reason that Cabrini is known for their excellent education program is because of their field work and student teaching programs. Before these programs were instilled, students were left to fend for themselves.

Kuhns has seen so many classes that he even knew professor Mary Budzilowicz when she was a student. Budzilowicz remembers him vividly not only as a colleague, but also as an intimidating teacher. Buzilowicz said, “He was such an imposing presence in the classroom.” She admited to being a little scared of him at first and not recognizing the true Mr. Kuhns until she became his co-worker.

Many current students feel the same way as she did. Senior elementary education major Lisa DeFino said, “Although he did scare me at first, now I look to him as a big, lovable, teddy bear.” Usually people tend to agree with DeFino. Kuhns can give quite an impressive look with his bushy beard and broad shoulders. After talking to him, he can’t help but let his sweet side shine through.

Previous Cabrini students saw his good-natured side and took advantage of it. Many years ago, Litavec had his car stolen by some Cabrini students. Kuhns drove Litavec around campus searching for the car. The students witnessed these actions and planned revenge on Kuhns. They managed to move his locked car from its parking spot to another location on campus. Kuhns eventually found the missing car with a mysterious note on the steering wheel. The note read,”You locked your cars and took your keys. We stole your car with lots of ease!” After reading this, Kuhns simply sat in his car and laughed. Not too many professors would respond like that in the situation, but yet again Kuhns showed his easygoing and laidback nature.

Kuhns grew up in Milton Hershey School, an orphanage for boys. About 20 to 25 students grew up with him on this farm. Many stories must have arisen in a situation like this, since Kuhns plans to finish a book regarding his life there in his retirement. Also in his retirement, Kuhns wants to pursue more of his passion; genealogy. He is highly interested in finding out more about the history of his ancestors. Kuhns has found lines dating back all the way to Washington at Valley Forge. There is even an oil painting in his possession of his sixteenth century ancestors.

Kuhns’ children could help us better understand just how crazy he is about his past. Kuhn claims that if he was driving and pass a cemetery, he would stop to see if he recognized any names. His children began to ask, “Dad, are we stopping there?” at every cemetery they would pass. Now, since the Internet is so readily available, he has a much easier time searching secrets from his past.

Kuhns’ advice for all future teachers would be to expand their resumes. With the No Child Left Behind Laws and inclusion so commonplace today, he sees the need for highly qualified teachers. Kuhns strongly suggests double certifications for new teachers. Areas that are hot right now include special education, Spanish and computer technology. Any of these concentrations would help candidates land a job.

Kuhns described his favorite memory of Cabrini simply as the students. He thinks the quality of the students here is very high. Kuhns feels they truly care about kids.

Kuhns said, “The types of students Cabrini attract are dedicated.” He feels they are intelligent and hardworking. They make his job easier and make him feel like he has the best job in the world.

Camille Alchenberger, elementary education alum, class of ’05, said, “Kuhns may feel like his job is easier because of his good students but because of his wonderful teaching, he made our job as students much more interesting and fun!”

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: Loquitur@yahoogroups.com. The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by: Matt Schill

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