May 8, 2022

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     In the Spring Valley, N.Y., breakfast program, those volunteers retired come from every former vocation – professional, blue-collar, high-finance, the trades, at home, etc. And we bring our workplace habits with us.

     For example, the late Bob Drennen, once longtime principal at the newer Cherry Lane School in Tallman, could be spotted a mile away as an educator. I had never met him before he became involved in the breakfast program though as a former Rockland Journal-News photographer, I was in most schools on assignment and came to know many teachers and administrators.

It was quickly apparent in the breakfast kitchen at the old Dutch Reformed Church that Bob was a teacher and more. 

     He was quick on his feet, making rounds with participants, talking to people in the kitchen, checking on the guys and gals he would ferry in a van to various places as a volunteer driver.

     You see, Bob, though retired, was still an educator, a principal looking after “students and staff” as it were in his post-professional life, in that moment as an orchestrator of good deeds.

     From all reports, Bob Drennen gave of his time in other ways, too, as an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, at Habitat for Humanity and with the Helping Hands coalition for the homeless and poor. It was with Helping Hands that Bob connected with the Rockland Interfaith Breakfast Program. 

     But you need not know all this to realize he had been an educator. The tip-off was the moment Bob walked into the kitchen. Before he quickly scanned us all, he looked at the wall clock. It was a reference stare: “Where are we at the moment?”

Teachers, principals always look at clocks.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.