To achieve the incredible you have to attempt the impossible!

Less is more?

Bristol Borough School District Superintendent Dr. Thomas Francis “Tom” Shaffer, Ed.D., who has been the distinguished Bristol Borough School District Superintendent since 2014 and has served the roughly 1,000-student district since 1990, most accurately proved that ‘less complicated is often more appreciated’.

He had come to Bristol Borough after his tenure as an elementary school principal in the Shenandoah Valley School District, Schuylkill County.

Students always come first here at the Bristol Borough School District where everyone shares a vision of focusing on the learners.

“You are an honor, a scholar and a gentleman.”

Just one of the prestigious accolades expressed by the well respected speakers for Dr. Shaffer at his recognition and retirement celebration held at King George II Inn last Saturday evening, coordinated by Jennifer Moyer, Dr. Shaffer’s trusted administrative assistant, Beth Gallagher, the very appreciated high school secretary, and the VERY semi-retired Mary L. [Younglove] Gesualdi, Title 1 Federal Program coordinator.

Many are so heartfully thankful to him for setting such high standards for instruction and student achievement, and for the potently strong character climate for the fortunate students, families, and staff in their learning communities.

Dr. Shaffer’s actions obviously always supported his mission.

Progress was possible with the support of the board, administration, faculty and staff as he ensured a safe and welcoming environment for the students to grow and develop as learners and citizens. He also adeptly oversaw integrated quality programs and teaching strategies to foster 21st century skills.

Food and celebrations unite and strengthen community bonds and everyone was excited about the opportunity to honor Dr. Thomas Shaffer and celebrate this event of his retirement.

Brother Jack R. Ventura, S.M., executive director of the International Center for Marianist Formation, began the celebration with a blessing. “Dr. Shaffer you have always inspired and have had an uplifting impact,” he said.

Knockout, genuine speeches were presented from a King George II balcony, wishing Tom Shaffer a most enjoyable retirement filled with fun and happiness.

This man who has devoted most of his career to the Bristol Borough School District and rose to the top of its administrative ranks with significant strides is calling it a career.

“Congratulations Tom Shaffer!” Well, everyone heard that!

Mayor Joseph A. Saxton earnestly thanked Dr. Shaffer for all of his extraordinary contributions, his pride to self, his family and the Borough of Bristol.

Mayor Saxton formally declared that “June 1, 2019 is Tom Shaffer Day!”

Former Snyder-Girotti Elementary School Principal Rosemary “Rosie” Parmigiani’s heartfelt, spot-on sentiments were conveyed to the crowd by Bristol Borough School District middle school teacher, Donna LaRosa. “Dr. Shaffer has been an excellent asset and he always challenged us all to be better," she said. "I consider him a brother from another mother. He always saw things others would miss. He has left his mark.”

Rosie herself had always promoted progress with a passion!

Bristol Borough School District social studies teacher and cross country coach, Ronald Brian “Ron” McGinn, reminded Dr. Shaffer of his “less is more” communications, even though “you do have the gift of gab. We the teachers appreciate you giving us the privilege to teach.”

Dr. Shaffer’s positive and optimistic direction enabled each teacher to make his/her instruction engaging. “You inspired us to lift toward our dreams and you are leaving a legacy of spirit," he said.

The retired director of curriculum and instruction at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, Dr. Jack McGovern, and former Bristol Borough School District Superintendent, Dr. Broadus Davis Jr. were among the many who attended the retirement gala to congratulate Dr. Shaffer.

He established such a calm, productive academic and athletic environment in each school under his guidance, allowing each student to grow into a competent and caring young adult.

“My goal was always to make the district better than when I arrived,” said Shaffer.

Teacher-aide Milagros “Millie” and her husband, retired teacher, Kenneth Wayne Honnen have always held Dr. Shaffer in the highest regard. They both attended his celebratory dinner.

“The first time I met Tom was at the Bristol Borough School Board dinner when he was hired," said Millie. "My late husband, Aanibal “KiKi” Rosato who died from cancer May 31, 1997 was on the school board then. Tom often asked me to be a translator for him. He was so good to me.”

Ken Honnen, who taught 5th and 6th grade English and social studies, and Millie met at the Warren Snyder-John Girotti School. “Tom took over as principal at a very difficult time. John Girotti had just passed away. Tom had a big role to fill and he did a great job of befriending everyone and he saw the district though a lot of changes. He always did what was best for the kids.”

They both feel he is very relatable. “He didn’t think of people as his employees and that he was the boss.” Ken and Millie felt honored that he attended their wedding in 2000.

Dr. Tom Shaffer was truly touched by h,ow many people attended.

“I have been very blessed to work with so many incredibly talented and such devoted individuals for 29 years," he said. "I love coming to work every day and I am leaving with that feeling.”

Every Friday, he stopped at the Amish Market and purchased doughnuts to take in with him to share at the high school office. Hence, the decorative message on his celebratory strawberry cake that was created by the Baking & Pastry Arts Vo-Tech students at the Bucks County Technical High School, “Who is going to bring us donuts?”

“One of the benefits of working in a small school district is that I can get to each building very easily," said Shaffer. "Being with the students and interacting with them daily meant the most to me!”

Dr. Shaffer quoted the late Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig [1903-1941], “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Dr. Shaffer’s older sister, Edna Louise, nicknamed “Eddie Lou” and her husband Irv and their son “Irvie” joined him for his retirement celebration. His nephew Dave, and his great nephews, Collin, Gabe and Tom, along with his great niece, Jillian all joined him at the head table.

“I will really miss everyone. I really will," said Shaffer. "I was always ready to go back by August, so we’ll see how that goes this summer.”

And his immediate plans? “Nothing, for a bit, but I will read all the books I bought that I never read. I‘ll re-read The Canterbury Tales.”

Dr. Shaffer was presented with a gigantic array of gorgeous red roses from Carol Mignoni-Ferguson, and a framed painting created by local artist, Jean-Marc Dubus that depicts the four buildings in which he, the retiring superintendent has worked.

“Tom epitomizes the Bristol Borough School District with his love and devotion to all things related to the district,” said Carol.

Mary Gesualdi graciously reinforced the warm, caring heart-felt sentiments exhibited by all and voiced, “Thank God for the great weather and great friends!”

Dr. Thomas Francis “Tom” Shaffer, Ed. D will be missed as a mentor, a leader, a friend and a nurturer.

God bless.

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