Jim Knapp loved his job so much that he called it “his hobby”.
He recently retired from this hobby after 30 years as a school counselor at Bethel Park High School.
“I loved doing what I did,” Knapp said recently. “I was just advising kids how to help themselves. My job, my goal, my hobby was to help them help themselves, and I did that through counseling and advice .”
Over those 30 years, the South Strabane Township resident has helped children in many ways, but mostly by listening to them.
His listening methods included activities such as foosball or checkers with students.
Or he would walk around with them, offering a chance to let off steam.
“I did whatever it took to get it to where I could listen to them,” he said. “It was really great because it got them out of the square-walled counseling area and gave them a chance to walk and talk at the same time.”
Knapp, who turns 61 in August, has worked in other school districts, including Ford City and North Allegheny, as well as the Western Area Career and Technical Center in Canonsburg, where he also served for several years on the board of administration.
But the goal for the 1979 graduate of Bethel Park High School was to return to his alma mater.
Those who worked with Knapp said his loss would be felt in the district, as he always went the extra mile to help students.
Michael Bruce, who is in his 26th year as a councilor, said Knapp always had snacks ready for a child who might be hungry or gave him money for lunch if he needed it.
“School was his life,” Bruce said. “He was all about the kids all the time. He was cut out to be a high school counselor. Anything he could do for the kids outside of the normal school day, that was what he was. He wanted children succeed all the time.”
Jeff Metheny, a retired teacher and former Bethel Park High School football coach, worked with Knapp for about 25 years.
“He was the go-to person for what young men or women needed when they wanted a college scholarship,” Metheny said. “He mentored so many young men and women to put them in the right position to succeed. It was truly amazing to watch. The school district will definitely miss him. The kids will miss him.”
Dr. Zeb Jansante, assistant superintendent, touted Knapp’s ability to connect children.
“He did a lot to help young people build a career,” Jansante said. “We started sending kids to another vocational school where we usually didn’t send kids because Jim reached out and found a program that wasn’t offered with our vocational school. He really went beyond. The children were really the center of his attention.”
Knapp’s involvement with Bethel Park students also included mentoring. He was the women’s basketball head coach for three years, as well as an assistant for many years. His involvement in women’s basketball dates back to his days as a student at Bethel Park, when he was the team’s scorekeeper and manager.
What seemed to bring him the most joy as a coach was his time with the college boys and girls basketball program.
“That’s where you really teach everything,” Knapp said. “It was by far my best coaching job. I coached in many places and had a lot of coaching experience, but the best was this college because I could work with boys and girls. girls and I could teach the fundamentals. I’ve loved coaching all my life.
Even though he’s retired, Knapp isn’t going to take it easy. He will be a substitute teacher at John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Washington and work a few days a week as a job coach for ARC Pennsylvania in Canonsburg.
There is another task he will undertake.
“I will take my grandson to school,” Knapp said. “It’s something I really wanted to do. He’ll come in as a sophomore. I’ll drop him off, then head to JFK or ARC, fill in, and work.”
Knapp is one of 27 retirees in the district at the end of the 2021-22 school year — including 12 professionals and 15 support staff. The retirees represent more than 534 years of expertise and experience.
Those honored with Knapp at a luncheon in June are:
Mark Graham, bus driver – 8 years of service
Judi Kosanovich, health and physical education teacher – 33 years old
Linda Kountz, bus driver – 19 years old
Maria Leonard, world languages and cultures teacher – 21 years old
Tricia Moury, music teacher – 22 years old
Paul Novak, Library Media Specialist – 28
Dr. Janet O’Rourke, Assistant Superintendent – 22
Ella Pysola, library assistant – 23 years old
William Ranegar, Head Warden – 9 years old
George Reganick, goalkeeper – 6 years old
Doris Sharkey, bus helper – 11 years old
Patricia Talerico, bus helper – 8 years old
Myrna Thomas, health and physical education teacher – 30 years old
David Cheeseborough, Chief Engineer – 40
Nancy Clements, computer science paraprofessional – 19 years old
Mark Dubuch, bus driver – 20 years old
Paula Gouirand, bus driver – 28 years old
William Herman, bus driver – 11 years old
Nancy Keane, bus driver – 20 years old
Patricia Luptak, school nurse – 4 years
Mark Render, Attendance Coordinator – 30
Terrence Spitznogle, technical education teacher – 30 years old
Lori Sutton, Director of Special Education – 18
Patricia Talerico, bus helper – 8 years old
Christine Williams, first grade teacher – 21 years old
Marilyn Williams, bus helper – 15 years old.
Our current commenting system, The World Table, will be closed as of July 31. Until then, we’ll be moving to a new commenting system that will only require your subscriber credentials to log in. We will be testing and rolling out this new system in the coming days. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 724-222-2200 ext. 2421 for any questions or concerns. Thanks for reading and commenting!