Easton's schools have come a long way since Al Treidel began teaching social studies at Helen Keller Middle School in 1969. Treidel now presides over the schools as chairman of the Board of Education. But in 1969, he found himself hoping students would be absent because there weren't enough desks and chairs to go around. And in the winter it would get so cold in his classroom that students would warm their hands against the film projector.
Though the schools have come a long way, Treidel says there are still problems. In the upcoming year he will address concerns about continued problems with Staples Elementary's cooling system, which he says has not worked properly since recent school construction.
Treidel's life was headed in a different direction when he was studying at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, specializing in trombone. He dreamt of playing for the New York Philharmonic until an accident severed a nerve in his lip. He also considered law and becoming a rabbi and even went to the seminary for a time. But ultimately he knew education was his true passion.
Though he did not have a degree in education, a teacher shortage helped him land a job at a school in Moodus, after which he went back to school for his master's degree. He has been a principal in Waterford, Bethany and at Fox Run in Norwalk and Helen Keller Middle School. And though he always thought he'd return to the classroom, he was "bit by the administrative bug."
"Finally I decided in my 40th year it was time to basically toss in the towel, and I remained retired for 12 hours," he said.
Before coming school board head he served as vice chair and chair of the Republican Town Committee and on the Zoning Board of Appeals. He is also a justice of the peace and director of Jewish life at Temple Beth El in Stamford. And for 35 years, he has run Alfred M. Treidel Associates in Easton, helping students with college decisions and SAT preparation.
"I'm probably the only person in the entire town of Easton who can claim to have been a teacher, a school administrator, a parent, an empty-nester and now a member of the board of education," said Treidel, who has lived in Easton 33 years and has three daughters who went through the school system.
"My stake in the school system is genuine. I don't have any of my own children to educate at this point. I'm certainly concerned that we provide the children of Easton with the best education we possibly can and at the same time you kind of keep one eye out for the town to make sure you're providing an education that the town can afford and also feel that their money is well-spent."
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