Farewell, Mr. Buchert

The outdoors beckon the longtime math teacher and football coach, who made his last three-flight climb to Room 349 this morning.


photo by Jess Daninhirsch

Mr. Buchert (second from left) beside his “Academic Hall” colleagues Mr. Walkowiak, Ms. Manesiotis, and Mr. Greenleaf.

Kara Mihm, Co-Editor-in-Chief

How long have you worked at NA?

Overall, 29 years. I first taught at Ingomar Middle School. Then I left for two years to be a head football coach at another school before I returned to NA to work at NASH in 2000. But I’ve been a football coach here for 32 years.

When did you know it was time to finally retire?

People kept asking “When are you going to go?” and “How many years do you have left?” To be honest, I didn’t know. I never really thought about it, but when Mr. Gliozzi–whom I have known since I was in 6th grade– retired, I thought that I might want to start looking into it. 

Is there a specific reason why you are ending in the middle of the school year?

Prior to my full-time teaching positions, I had been a substitute teacher for a while, as well as a tutor for a hearing-impaired student through an organization called the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Some of that employment time was able to be bought back, so I got credit for it. With all of the added credit, I have enough years of service to be able to retire. I still love working with all of the kids and the daily interactions I have with them, but I don’t want to get to the point in the end where I hate coming to my job. I think now is a perfect time to end on a high note.

Is there anything that you would change about your career if you could do it over again?

Two things suddenly popped into my mind. One is that I would have definitely made up my mind about becoming a teacher sooner than I had. And the second is that I would never have left North Allegheny for those two years. But looking back, it was just one of those things that I needed to do in order to solidify that I was meant to be here.

Will you still remain involved with the football team in any way?

The possibility exists for that and I’ve communicated this to Coach Walker, but I am a big fan of outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing, so there is a big possibility that I will be moving somewhere up north so that I will be able to easily enjoy all of that. If my wife and I happen to move, then I’m not sure if I would make the hour-plus trips down and back to practice every day.

Your classroom has more windows than any other classroom at NASH.  How did you score the spot?

Everyone should note that I am willing to sell raffle tickets to whoever wants it. But I got assigned this room. Luckily. It’s like the Taj Mahal. When I came to school the year that the renovations were finished, I was told to go to this room. I kept it quiet because it’s big. I think it might be the only classroom in the building that has three whole windows. It’s got a great view too. Mr. Walkowiak will call me from time to time, telling me to look out at the field to see thirteen turkeys or a buck and four doe. 

What is the best piece of advice you’d to give to a young teacher who is just beginning their career?

I would tell them to be prepared and to be honest with the kids. What I learned early on as a teacher is that if you don’t know, just be honest. If there is a certain problem that even you as a teacher don’t know, tell them the truth and, in turn, let them know that you’ll work the problem out later tonight or go to another teacher for an answer to the question. If you try to fool the kids, they see right through that. 

Obviously, Mrs. Manesiotis will be lost without you.  How will she survive?

I have been so lucky that our chairperson, Mr. Bell, has agreed to some of the crazy things that she and I have come up with in terms of projects. Mr. Bell has supported us 100%. For me to be able to teach the same classes with Mr. Grater and now Mrs. Manesiotis for an extended period of time has helped me stay as long as I have. At the beginning of my time here, and hers too, our paths didn’t really cross. Then, we started teaching similar things and consulting with one another. She and I are constantly revising the curriculum, trying to make it better. And from time to time, that’s become very entertaining because we argue over things and bug each other about tiny issues. But to answer your question, she’ll be just fine. Just fine.

You said that you love to hunt and fish.  Will that be how you spend your abundance of free time?

Yes, I will definitely be hunting, fishing, but I love to read about history, too. My wife also loves to travel, so I’ll be joining her. She has always wanted to go to Alaska, so we have a trip planned for the summer. We also have a cruise on the calendar, so as long as I’ll be able to settle somewhere to go fishing for a few days, I’ll be good. I’m content in a boat with a fishing pole or in a tree stand with a crossbow. I just enjoy the peacefulness of those activities.

What has changed most since you started your job here?

Other than technology, I’m not sure there has been a lot. Some people like to say that the kids have changed because of all the computers and phones, but I believe that their want to be here has remained the same. They are here to do as well as they can, to excel.

What has it been like to have your football players in class?

Being a teacher is no different than coaching. The only difference is that if my right tackle misses a test question, I will not respond to him in the same way in the classroom as I would if he missed a block on a Friday night. There’s a different tone, a different volume and demeanor with which I am going to approach that. In fact, they probably felt that they were more scrutinized in my class than anyone else because I knew their potential and didn’t want them slacking. They probably even thought I was more of a pain in class than when they had me as a coach.

Is there anything you won’t miss about NASH?

As I went through year ten to year twenty to year thirty, I always wished that I would be moved down to the lower levels so that I wouldn’t have to walk three flights of stairs every day. I won’t miss the steps.