WSSD Board and Teachers Prepped for School Year

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford

On Monday, August 22, in anticipation of the rapidly approaching first day of school, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board approved a range of items mostly relating to personnel.

Martha Kew

Martha Kew

The evening also marked the first board meeting for the district’s new business manager, Martha Kew.

The district will welcome four new special education teachers, two each at the middle school and the high school. In addition, Swarthmore-Rutledge School, Wallingford Elementary School, and Strath Haven High School will all welcome new speech and language teachers.

For four WSSD teachers, tenure will officially begin on the first day of school: Robin Smith, the guidance counselor at SHHS; Colae Calkin-Jukkala, currently a teacher at Nether Providence Elementary School; Donna Clarke, also an NPE teacher; and Katelyn Graham, a language arts teacher at SHHS.

Teacher tenure is achieved in the state of Pennsylvania by completing three years in the same school district satisfactorily.

As part of the district’s ongoing effort to support new teachers, or teachers new to their positions, veteran teachers are regularly assigned as mentors to help plan and implement curriculum, as well as to provide a sounding board throughout the school year. Mentors are paid for this work. Ten experienced district teachers have been paired with 12 new teachers.

Research Projects to Use Student Data

Two dissertation proposals were approved by the board last night which will allow for two research projects to be conducted using student data.

Middle school principal Chris Matsanka will be working to “…determine if a correlation exists between Classroom Diagnostic Testing (CDT) and Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSAs) in language arts and mathematics, as well as to determine whether interim CDT scores can be used to predict student performance on the PSSAs.” Depending on the results of this study, information from the Classroom Diagnostic Testing (which is gathered earlier in the school year) could be used for targeted interventions in order to ultimately improve PSSA scores.

The second study is going to be conducted by Dina Dormer. Ms. Dormer is going to examine “…the impact of participation in interscholastic athletics on the achievement of students identified as members of underrepresented minority groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses at the high school level.

The study may also examine teachers’ perceptions of students from underrepresented minority groups in STEM and student-athletes, and how those perceptions impact student achievement.” One goal of this particular study is to “…provide strategies for reducing the achievement gap in STEM courses.” This study will rely solely on previously recorded data — there will be no access to current students.

Superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer noted the busy athletics fields marking the beginning of school sports, with the first home football game slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Strath Haven’s George L. King Field. Dr. Palmer also happily happened upon the drum line veterans instructing new members, and is eagerly anticipating their on-field performances as well.

The meeting closed with board member Dr. Robert Reiger citing a recent Town Talk article that looked at tax increases in area districts. Reiger reiterated his concern that in our district, “Taxes are rising faster than other districts,” with no proposed solution to date.

The Birth of Bertland

Bertland, top center, from Mueller’s 1909 Atlas of Delaware County.

Bertland, top center, from Mueller’s 1909 Atlas of Delaware County.

On Harvard Avenue, a few hundred feet west of “Maerex” and the Presbyterian Church (the one that was built), is Swarthmore College’s Wister House residence.

It was built in 1949 by John Wister, who was the first director of what is now called the Scott Arboretum, but the first house at this location was a mansion owned by Howard and Bertha Ireland. They were members of the Swarthmore business aristocracy who populated the 700 block of Harvard Avenue in the early 1900s, and they called their estate “Bertland.” All that remains of that property now is the double driveway entrance with the next-door ABC House, and one of the two stone gateposts.

Howard Izard Ireland

Howard Izard Ireland

Howard Izard Ireland was born in Tuckahoe, Cape May County, in 1857. His father died when Howard was 7, and by the age of 13 he was working in his brother Edward’s store in Camden. Howard was creative and preferred to write, and he got a job as a newspaper reporter. His grand descriptions and choice phrases were being wasted on mundane matters, and Howard advanced to writing ads. He became the director of advertising for Strawbridge & Clothier, and was so effective that in 1890 he established his own Ireland Advertising Agency, in the Penn Mutual Building on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. It started as just desk space for himself, but the company was wildly successful and in a few years expanded to 20 employees occupying half a floor of the building. Still in his 30s, Howard Ireland was now rich.

In February of 1881, with some urgency, Howard had married Virginia Elizabeth Sumner. She was 8 years younger than he (do the arithmetic), and their son was born that May. The child died young, but five years later in 1886, George Sumner Ireland was born.

In 1892, with his agency spewing cash into his pockets like a fire hose, Howard purchased a tract of 200 acres in Clementon and built a cozy home of 7,400 square feet overlooking a lake, with a separate residence for the servants. Virginia now had a place where she could show off her noted equestrian skill, and it was here in 1895 that a third child, Virginia Sumner Ireland, was born.

The arrival of little Virginia aggravated the problems of the marriage, and Howard left for a vacation in Japan, where he spent several months. In June of 1899, after 18 years of marriage, Howard and Virginia divorced. Virginia ended up with the Clementon estate, and a few years later she sold off most of the grounds to a group of investors, who built the present highly-ranked Pine Valley Golf Club.

Virginia and her daughter Virginia continued to live in the mansion on the remaining 38 acres, and in 1923 an airplane made an emergency landing on the property. The pilot was Captain Edmund Donald Colrick Herne, an RAF ace who had shot down 30 German planes in the Great War. Captain Herne and young Virginia married, and a few years later the Clementon mansion was sold to Al Capone. It burned after World War II, and all that is now left of Howard Ireland’s New Jersey estate is the servants’ quarters on 7 acres, which itself is a $4 million property.

Meanwhile, Howard had arrived in Swarthmore in 1900, eager to rebuild his life. In February of that year he purchased the Harvard Avenue mansion from Stanford B. Lewis, and one year later, in February 1901, Howard married Bertha Demmy Young. She was the first person he had hired for his rapidly growing agency, in August 1892 for $8 per week, as bookkeeper and stenographer. Howard spent his time creating advertising ideas, and Bertha handled all the financial aspects of the business. The partners in business had become partners in love.

Howard purchased additional land and invested at least $12,000 in improvements to the house, outbuildings, and grounds.

At work, Howard was becoming involved in internal business disputes with some of his other employees, and in 1907, in an effort to protect his home should he be sued, Howard made his wife the sole owner of Bertland. Bertha was now the agency’s vice president and treasurer, and in 1909 she finally prevailed upon Howard to incorporate the business and issue stock.

Howard and Bertha had firm control of a successful business, their home was a showpiece, and except for the looming train wreck of an epic marital dispute, life was good.

To be continued in next week’s issue.

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Our Visit to Nohant, France

George Sand's house in Nohant, France.

George Sand’s house in Nohant, France.

Vacation Postcards

By John Pierson

This summer we visited the manor house of Aurore Dupin at Nohant in the Berry region of central France. She had inherited it in the 1820s from her grandmother when young, and it was there that she achieved success as a writer under the pen name by which she became widely known: George Sand.

Sand was a radical, cigar-smoking, proto-feminist and socialist. She was also for nearly ten years from the late 1830s, in a close and intense relationship the composer Frédéric Chopin.

Bust of Frédéric Chopin at Nohant.

Bust of Frédéric Chopin at Nohant.

Much at the manor is as it was: the Romanesque church, the studio of the painter Eugene Delacroix, the manor house itself. Inside the house the dining room table is set for the noted guests — writers, poets, musicians — who were frequent visitors. The room where Chopin slept and worked is no longer as it was, for Sand uprooted everything that reminded her of the composer after their relationship ended.

It is enough, though, to move through the rooms of the house where they lived, to walk the paths and the gardens they walked, to visit the neighboring small towns and villages they visited — and to reflect on the beauty and transience of existence that Chopin, ever mindful of his own mortality, captured in the music he composed there.

John Pierson with his partner Sally (left) and youngest daughter Miriam.

John Pierson with his partner Sally (left) and youngest daughter Miriam.

Briefly Noted…

Three former Swarthmoreans reunited in Nantucket the other week, converging from several directions (l. to r.): Chris Smith came east from California; Will Untereker flew further east from Tokyo; and Bill Untereker journeyed north from Philadelphia.

Three former Swarthmoreans reunited in Nantucket the other week, converging from several directions (l. to r.): Chris Smith came east from California; Will Untereker flew further east from Tokyo; and Bill Untereker journeyed north from Philadelphia.

Christine Palmer Emmert

Christine Palmer Emmert

Former Swarthmorean Christine Palmer Emmert is presenting Say No More, a rethinking of August Strindberg’s The Stronger, as part of the Philly Fringe Festival this September 15, 16, and 17. Emmert graduated from Swarthmore High School in 1961 and acted with the Players Club during her high school years. She has been involved with theater in New York, London and the northeastern U.S. with her company Wild Plum Productions. Say No More will be presented at the Jed Williams Gallery, 615 Bainbridge Street. Tickets are $10 through and at the door. For more info, call (610) 917-1336.

Zoe McElroy

Zoe McElroy

Zoe McElroy of Wallingford recently flew back from space. She took part in a 13-day program at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The two-week Space Camp program is designed for trainees who have a particular interest in space exploration, mixing education in STEM subject matter with hands-on activities and mission, culminating in a 24-hour simulated mission involving a delivery to the International Space Station.

Lap Swimmers: This week’s winners of the turquoise with navy writing 2016 1,000-lap T-shirt at Swarthmore Swim Club include: 90.) Samina Iqbal, 91.) Bob Dawes, 92.) Catharine Restrepo, 93.) William Gilhool, 94.) Sophia Strine, 95.) Aleksander Ivanovic, 96.) Maria Zissimos, 97.) Barbara Ann Levis, 98.) Jill Whitcraft, 99.) Andrea Knox, 100.) Cindy Un, 101.) Clare Scharschan, 102.) Hugh Haney, 103.) Sandy Sborofsky, 104.) Carol Sabersky, 105.) Virginia Thompson, 106.) Terry Shea, 107.) Paula Bronstein and 108.) Julie Vrooman.

Swarthmore College upperclass members helped first year students move into dormitories on Tuesday. First-year orientation continues through the weekend with classes beginning Monday, August 29.

Swarthmore College upperclass members helped first year students move into dormitories on Tuesday. First-year orientation continues through the weekend with classes beginning Monday, August 29.

International students at Swarthmore College climb the hill toward Parrish Hall. Orientation began last week for their cohort.

International students at Swarthmore College climb the hill toward Parrish Hall. Orientation began last week for their cohort.

Celebrations and Milestones Call for Family Time

On vacation in Africa are David Smuts and Jennifer Smuts with their son, Oliver, and daughter, Rachel.

On vacation in Africa are David Smuts and Jennifer Smuts with their son, Oliver, and daughter, Rachel.

Vacation Postcards

By Jennifer Smuts

In early July, we headed off to South Africa to celebrate my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. Family from Australia, the U.S., and South Africa convened in Cape Town only to fly east to Durban, KwaZulu-Natal then drive five hours north to the border of Mozambique to experience a family safari.

Upon arrival at Tembe Elephant Park, we were greeted by members of the Tembe tribe who were eager to introduce us to their culture and share the Park. Game drives promised to showcase The Big Five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo, however, we experienced so much more.

One of the inhabitants of Tembe Elephant Park.

One of the inhabitants of Tembe Elephant Park.

Graceful giraffe wandered for vegetation. Dung beetles flew in the most precarious way. And needless to say, the most magnificent creatures at Tembe were the elephants. There were multiple herds but the most memorable grazed in the savanna and as sun began to set paraded towards the forest for shelter. It was awesome to see the babies being protected, teenagers acting out and of course, the bull keeping all of the family in-line.

From meeting the other international guests at Tembe and enjoying the tribal song and dance to making memories with family members and ultimately feeling blessed for the opportunity — our holiday to South Africa was a trip of a lifetime!

The Smuts family gathers in South Africa.

The Smuts family gathers in South Africa.


Billie Hebble

Billie Hebble

Celebrating Billie

Swarthmore will welcome a new centenarian to its ranks when Billie Hebble celebrates her 100th birthday this September.

Billie moved here from Maryland in 1953 with her husband, the late Dr. Grant Hebble, and their four children.

Her family invites Billie’s good friends to mark this special occasion with food, drink and live music on Saturday, September 3, from 12 noon until 3 p.m., at 306 N. Chester Road.

Tyler Clapp of Swarthmore graduated in May from Rice University in Houston, Tex., with a degree in mechanical engineering. His rocket team was honored with an award for innovation in design engineering. He will begin work this fall with SpaceX in Waco, Tex.

Thomas Shields of Wallingford was named to the dean’s list at Union College. Thomas is majoring in economics and history.

Elizaveta Sadovnikova of Swarthmore received a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Rhode Island during the college’s 130th commencement ceremonies last May.

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Panthers are Back on the Field and on the Air

Strath Haven High School’s football team opens their season by hosting Interboro tonight at 7:30 p.m. on George L. King Field.

SHHS football season starts tonight!

Football’s back, and so is

Strath Haven High School hosts Interboro tonight (Friday, August 26) at 7:30 p.m. on the turf of George L. King Field. Strath Haven’s Panthers hope to hit the ground running and improve on their 2-8 record in 2015.

As the Panthers begin their season, so does, which starts its eleventh year broadcasting Strath Haven football games. in streaming audio via the Internet.

Broadcasters Brian Carroll and Mike Mayer call every play of the season, beginning each week fifteen minutes before opening kickoff.

The audio stream can be heard live (and free) at on any Internet-enabled device. Archived games are also available for listening at

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Letters to the Editor…

Vegetable euthanasia

To the Editor:

An initially outraged and subsequently puzzled neighbor reports that the trees removed from Henderson Field were dying. This raises an interesting point in regard to vegetable euthanasia.

These trees did not seem at risk for causing distress or anguish by falling on us; were they suffering themselves? “We find consciousness in animals who move about in space, but not in organisms rooted in the earth” (Tomkins. Affect Imagery Consciousness Volume #1, Introduction).

In their last days might it not have been better to avail ourselves of whatever shade their dying, unconscious but still leafy boughs might have provided?

John Brodsky

Home truths on Benghazi

To the Editor:

Since the Benghazi tragedy keeps surfacing as a campaign issue, I offer the following pertinent facts which I hope will clarify the matter.

First, the security of any diplomatic post in the world is solely the responsibility of the host country. Blame for the sacking of our Benghazi consulate therefor rests with the Libyan  government, not with the  State Department or Secretary Clinton. The only military presence we provide in U.S. diplomatic posts is a small detachment of Marines in each embassy, and their primary mission is to protect classified material, not personnel.

Secondly, the Benghazi debacle has been exhaustively and repeatedly reviewed by blue-ribbon panels, staffed by distinguished present and former government officials. In each case, they found no dereliction of duty by Secretary Clinton. Those who nevertheless continue to fault her on Benghazi either do not know what they are talking about, or are lying to us.

Stuart Hibben

‘The E-mails’; Benghazi

To the Editor:

1. Regardless of the wisdom of the practice, don’t I recall that it has been reported that Hillary Clinton has not been the only high-ranking government official who used private e-mail servers for official business? Things such as this seem only to become big issues when an election is at stake.

2. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton did not have the final word on any action taken at Benghazi. She was not the President. There were many issues at stake at the time, some of which can probably not be spoken of or alluded to even now. Why is this matter always spoken of as if she was in total charge of decisions taken at the time? She might have made recommendations that one might disagree with, but she DID NOT HAVE final authority.

Has she really been any more dishonest, or flip-flopped any more, than many another politician that many of us believe to be at least reasonably qualified for office? Try to ignore the rhetoric and look at the records, folks.

Heather Jorgensen

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Touring Northern Pennsylvania

Vacation Postcards

By Virginia Thompson and Tom Shaffer of Swarthmore

Last year was Hawaii, this year the wilds of Pennsylvania — the northwestern and north central areas of the state. Highlights included the Kinzua Bridge State Park viaduct overlook and brand-new (July 2016) state park office. A 2003 tornado tore through the area, destroying much of the support structure of the former railroad bridge. The remains can be viewed from above and below, with a walkway out to the end of the still remaining supports. The ice mine in Coudersport, created by humidity in an enclosed space, was well worth the small admission price. Viewing stars, planets, and the Milky Way galaxy at Cherry Springs State Park, recognized as a Gold Level International Dark Sky Park, was amazing.

This graceful viaduct (non-SEPTA!) provides great views of Kinzua Bridge State Park and beyond. Photo by Virginia Thompson

This graceful viaduct (non-SEPTA!) provides great views of Kinzua Bridge State Park and beyond. Photo by Virginia Thompson

The DeBence Antique Music World in Franklin is full of handmade and one-of-a-kind music boxes used over the past 120+ years in merry-go-rounds, at roller skating venues, and for other purposes. The collection of pianos, radio boxes, and hundreds of other musical items is managed on a shoestring budget by a nonprofit organization using volunteers to maintain the individual pieces. We also attended the 160th anniversary concert of the Franklin community band, one of the oldest in the country.

Visiting the Drake Oil Well historical site, Oil City, and Titusville gave a good perspective on the oil and gas region of the state.

Bicycling the Sandy Creek and Allegheny River rail-trails offered magnificent scenery, black bears and deer, and long tunnels requiring flashlights. The Millersburg ferry, crossing the Susquehanna River above Harrisburg, offered an opportunity to ride one of the last two wooden sternwheelers still operating in the U.S., the other being its twin, the second Millersburg ferry.

Elk proved elusive, except this bronze one at Elk County Visitors Center. Photo by Virginia Thompson

Elk proved elusive, except this bronze one at Elk County Visitors Center. Photo by Virginia Thompson

Surprisingly delicious food greeted us in some unexpected places. Olga’s, in Coudersport, served interesting twists on American food (literally) among the fiber and wall art of an overzealous Olga, who needs new outlets for her significant talent. In Mifflinburg, along the Buffalo Valley rail-trail, is the Rusty Rail Brew Pub, a restored factory building formerly used to make cars, buggies, and cabinets. The Penn State Creamery is famous for outlandishly delicious ice cream.

Driving along Route 6, discovering small towns and county seats, and the Elk Scenic Drive (even without any elk sightings) made for a surprisingly relaxing vacation, with a slower pace of life that slowly grows on its visitors. We highly recommend discovering the less well-known areas of our Keystone State.


Notice to Readers & Advertisers

The Swarthmorean office will be closed from Friday, August 12, until Monday, August 22. There will be no issue published on Friday, August 19.

Mulch Available

Mulch is still available.

Two cubic yards for $65.00 and $105 for 4 cubic yards.

Please call the Borough Office at (610) 543-4599 to place an order.

Legacy Tree Sale Continues

The Swarthmore Tree Committee reminds you that the Legacy Tree Sale of white oak saplings continues through August 22.

The 2-3 foot high container grown trees are $12 each. They are hardy, long-living, and require little care.

Order and pay through the Swarthmore Borough office, (610) 543-4599, and pick up your trees at the Swarthmore Farmers Market in September.

Save the Date! House Tours

The Swarthmore Historical Society will once again be showing off some of the great houses in Swarthmore.

On Sunday, September 18, from 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., you can visit one or all of the eight houses that represent the different styles that make Swarthmore so unique.

Tickets will go on sale after Labor Day weekend at various locations in the ville.

For more information, visit