Ernest Hemingway once described retirement as "the ugliest word in the English language."
And Bernard Kubitza, former president and principal of Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, isn't exactly hopping to take on that particular status either.
"I don't like to use the word 'retired,'" said Kubitza. "The idea of retirement is that I'm going to sit around and take it easy all day."
When Kubitza began his dual position as the second president and 13th principal at Bishop Guilfoyle in 2009, he arrived with a lengthy list of qualifications.
Kubitza had started out as a high school teacher in Greene County, where he taught American history, world history and American government. At that time, he already had his master's in history as well as a principal certificate and a superintendent's Letter of Eligibility.
"I never thought I'd leave the classroom," said Kubitza, 62. "But an emergency came up where they needed an administrator."
Name: Bernard Kubitza
Hometown: California, Pa.
Education: California Area High School graduate, 1967; bachelor's degree in secondary education from California University of Pennsylvania, 1970; master's in history from California University of Pennsylvania; obtained his Superintendent's Letter of Eligibility and Principal's Certificate.
From there, he became an assistant principal and then a principal
In 2003, Kubitza opted for an early retirement from public education.
"When I retired from public education, I didn't know what I wanted to do," he explained. "I thought I wanted to do something else."
Covering the entire school-age spectrum, Kubitza then spent three years as an administrator in junior college before becoming a principal in an elementary school in Masontown, Pa.
Kubitza finally found himself in Altoona, where he took on a full-time position at Bishop Guilfoyle. He noted that Bishop Guilfoyle, like many Catholic and private schools, over the last 10 and 20 years has experienced declining enrollment.
"Obviously the revenues are down and you're not able to offer some of the programs that you would like," he said. "So when I went in, my first goal was to provide financial stability."
He said the school eliminated a $400,000 operating deficit in 2009 while expanding the education program, increasing enrollment and maintaining the lowest tuition of any Catholic high school in central Pennsylvania.
"That combination is a rare success in a public school system, in any school system," Kubitza said. "We're very proud of that. When I say 'we,' it wasn't just me. It was the school community."
He also played a part in expanding the school's instrumental program and enhancing the vocal music program.
"I think, as an educator, and I think any educator would agree, we're developing the total student," said Kubitza. "You need the core subjects, but you also have to provide for those unique interests. The process is slow in re-establishing a vocal and instrumental music program. We look for years to come to redevelop them, but it's not going to happen overnight. We're starting from scratch."
Kubitza's responsibilities as both president and principal of the high school included supervising strategic and financial planning, development, marketing and enrollment and all aspects of the education program.
But his obligations temporarily went by the wayside each morning, as he made it a priority to stand out in the school's corridors to greet students.
"The best job of any administrator is the interaction with students. We have really special students at BG: Their love of education, their love of God and their love of one another," he said. "Just talking with them inspires you as an administrator."
Joan Donnelly, current principal at Bishop Guilfoyle, served as vice principal during Kubitza's three-year tenure at the high school.
"It was a pleasure working with Mr. Kubitza," Donnelly wrote in an email, noting that he was an "experienced administrator" who benefited the school in all areas. "I am grateful for the leadership example that Mr. Kubitza provided through his strong work ethic and administrative wisdom. His love for education was evident throughout his time at BG."
His love for education will play a role in his future plans as well.
"I'm an old history teacher at heart. I plan to do some traveling in the fall," said Kubitza, who hopes to visit the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and New England.
Although his time off will give Kubitza a chance to catch up on some leisurely reading, gardening and housework, he said he doesn't want to stray too far from where it all started: in the classroom.
"My goal at some point in the next nine months is teaching as an adjunct professor at one of our local colleges," said Kubitza, who currently resides in California, Pa., where he has maintained a home while living in Altoona.
"I genuinely like my students and their best interests were given top consideration in any decision or action that I took in my years as a teacher or principal," said Kubitza, adding that he hopes to be remembered by his former students as a hardworking, caring person. "The school's always going to be in my thoughts, and the students will always be in my prayers."