Every day Kurt Gergler drives to work, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane.
His childhood paper route stretched from the end of Albin Road, up Logging Hill, down Grandview and to the highway. And this was a paper route he rode his bike for – no car rides for this one.
“Everywhere I turn I see something familiar,” Gergler said.
The house he grew up in still stands on Albin Road and hours were spent fishing in the town pond. His father, James, helped build three of the four baseball fields at Hanson Park and one is even named in his honor. Then there were the bike rides.
“We rode our bikes everywhere, to the far reaches of Bow,” Gergler said.
And there was only one stipulation.
“The main rule was get home before the street lights came on,” he said.
He even rode his bike to and from school just about every day for an entire school year so he could start his day earlier. We know, we wonder why any kid would want to start his or her school day early, but Gergler did. Even when he moved away after college, there were plenty of trips back to visit his dad.
“Every time I talk about Bow, my wife says, ‘That’s not my childhood,’ ” Gergler said. “ ‘It couldn’t have been that good.’ ”
And it’s changed a bit over the years.
“It’s bigger now. There are so many more houses here,” he said.
Gergler always wanted to come back to Bow to work. Now, after waiting patiently for Deb Winings to retire, he’s the new principal at Bow Elementary.
“I’ve had a goal to work here for a very long time,” Gergler said. “I’ve been waiting 10 years for this job to open up.”
When the job opened up in the middle of last school year, Gergler applied. He kind of had to – it was essentially his dream job. Think about the regrets he’d have if he decided not to.
He made it through the initial interview with a committee of 18 to become a finalist. There was also a phone interview with Superintendent Dean Cascadden and a visit to Grantham Village School, the last place he was an elementary school principal.
“I was actually blown away I got an interview,” he said.
Then he waited for what felt like an eternity and did what all of us have done when we don’t get information in the time we expect – Gergler convinced himself he didn’t get the job. So you can imagine the shock when Cascadden called and offered him the job.
“When he called I was expecting him to tell me thanks, but no thanks,” he said.
Bow wasn’t the only elementary school principalship he applied for, but it was far and away his top choice. (You must feel very wanted, good people of Bow.)
“It worked out incredibly well that I got the job I wanted,” Gergler said.
He’s officially been on the job for a little over two months, but is just about a week into the school year. And as you can imagine, there are a lot of names to remember. There are 408 students in the school, 86 staff members, and that’s not even counting the 14 bus drivers and other people who work at the other Bow district schools.
But he’s got a method to try and remember names. And with any luck, he’ll have them all down pat sometime this year. We personally think there should be a quiz at the end of the year to check progress. There are some that he already knows. The family he sold his dad’s house to have children at the school. Some of his classmates still live in town and have students roaming the hallways, while some of his childhood friends’ parents have grandchildren there.
“There’s a lot of criss crossing,” he said.
Now, if you had a reason to go to BES during the school day, we suggest checking in with the office first ’cause it’s kind of a rule. And once they give you one of those nifty visitor tags, see if Gergler is in his office. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
He’s not in there, is he? That’s typically the case. Gergler likes to be visible, walking around the halls and dropping into classrooms. He has continued his tradition of bus duty in the morning and afternoon. All good ways to start remembering names. He can do the administrative stuff after the kids go home.
“I need to be available for them,” Gergler said of the students and staff. “People during the day, paper work at night.”
Gergler started his administration career as an assistant principal at Maple Avenue Elementary School in Claremont before taking over in the lead role from 2004-07. He then spent the next six years at Grantham Village School.
“My job as an educator is to help people develop, help people learn,” he said.
But then he decided to do something a little outside of the box. Some may call unorthodox. Gergler quit his job to build a barn. Yep, like a barn barn, you know one for animals. He and his wife, who is the superintendent in Dover, had just bought property in Sunapee and wanted to start a farm. Once he finished the timber framed barn, with the help of a long time timber frame carpenter the next step was to add a house to the property.
He did a lot of the work himself – it was really his full time job for a year.
“It was kind of extreme DIY,” he said. “I love that kind of work.”
But when it was finished in December 2013, Gergler got the itch to return to education administration. He spent the following year as the assistant principal in charge of special education at Mountain View Middle School in Goffstown – and that’s when he saw the Bow job open up.
“It would be really cool to end my educational career here,” Gergler said. “I hope it works really well for everybody.”
Bow Elementary was finished when Gergler was in sixth grade, so he spent his learning career at Bow Middle School from kindergarten to ninth grade and then Concord High – back in the days before Bow had a high school.
But even though he didn’t spend any actual time at the school as a kid, he can still talk to his students about all the cool things in town. Rumor has it there’s a secret room in Gergler’s childhood home, but you’d have to ask him.
“I relate quickly with families cause I know the town,” Gergler said. “I drive up Logging Hill Road, and I know all the names of the people who lived in those houses back then.”