ST. MARYS — St. Marys Area School District Assistant Superintendent Jim Wortman recently retired after 40 years in education.
Wortman’s career began at Elk County Catholic Christian in 1979 as a social studies and environmental science teacher, he said.
“I intended to teach a couple of years and then go to law school because I loved constitutional law, but I quickly found I loved teaching and coaching more,” he noted.
Wortman has since served as a middle and high school principal, kindergarten-through-eighth-grade principal and assistant superintendent of SMASD.
He also coached volleyball, football, cross country and three individual state champions in track and field — Jerry Tucker, Marty Herbstritt and Laura Skok.
The annual eighth-grade Camp Mountain Run Leadership stands out as a “strong tradition” to Wortman, he said.
“My most memorable moments involved creating meaningful traditions with and for students,” he said.
Wortman recalls the “transition to middle school course,” too, that a team of educators called “Success at Sixth.”
“The nine-week initiative welcomes sixth-graders from across the district, and helps them develop a relationship with one another, assists them with learning teamwork skills and starts their journey as a class,” he said.
Wortman notes the positive memory he has of arriving the St. Marys Area Middle School principalship in 2006 and working alongside Rob Schreiber.
“Rob was instrumental in influencing my belief system and philosophy as an educator,” he notes.
Wortman recalls some awards throughout the years. In 2008, SMAMS and the outdoor classroom won first place for “Building Communities through Rural Education” from the Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools and Center on Rural Education and Communities at Penn State University.
The SMAMS eighth-grade leadership program was also recognized at a national conference in 2015, he said.
Looking back, Wortman says his journey in education and whom he worked alongside was never taken for granted.
“I feel blessed to have been part of great teams of teachers, exceptional school leader colleagues and literally thousands of wide-eyed students,” he said. “Along the way, the relationship factor was the key to creating a lasting and meaningful bond.”
Wortman quoted motivation speaker Jim Rohn, who said “We’re the average of the people we spend the most time with.”
“If that is true, being in education and in St. Marys has given me the perfect opportunity to be involved with live minds and hearts that have a relentless commitment to the future of our youth,” he said. “In turn, that has allowed me to be the very best version of myself within the profession that creates all others.”