by Lisa Tome
John Artinger's wife Glennda doesn't like to go shopping with her husband.
Mostly because her husband stops to chat with former and current students and basketball players during the trip and she ends up doing the chore alone.
In the coming months, the Artingers will be relocating to a place where that won’t happen as often. Artinger, who began working for Cecil County Public Schools in 1985, is retiring from his post as an assistant principal at North East High. The couple will move to Florida.
"My wife hates going out with me. People yell "Art". I talk to people. I've known so many people. In Walmart, she keeps walking while I talk to people," he said.
He is wrapping up a 32-year career which he says occurred due to fate.
Artinger wasn't intending to become a teacher and school administrator. Since 1985, he spent 21 years teaching social studies at Elkton High. He was a local support teacher for a year. He then was assistant principal at both Perryville and North East High for the last decade. He officially retires June 30.
Artinger came aboard Cecil County Public Schools as a package deal - to both teach and coach. He coached boys basketball for 19 years and girls for three years. He led teams to the final four in the state twice.
Teams he coached also made it to regional finals each of the last six years he coached.
"When I was young, I just wanted to stay out of jail. That's the truth. I wanted to be a basketball coach," said Artinger who played hoops in high school. During the summer months, he also coached in Europe and Australia. "Basketball has been good to me. I got to travel and meet people from all over the world," he said.
He got a late start on his career path.
"When I graduated high school in 1972 in Allentown (Pa.), I couldn't afford college. I worked five years, married and had a child. Seven years after graduation he earned his bachelor's degree. He also studied theology before switching his field to education. "I have no regrets. I've touched so many kids and parents lives," he said.
After finishing college, Artinger had job offers from both South Carolina and Elkton. He left the choice up to his wife and she picked Elkton over Charleston. "It's fate I guess that I wound up here," he said.
And he found his niche.
"I love kids. Growing up, I was thrown out of parochial school because I punched a nun," he said. His anger was born of frustration. It was later determined that Artinger is dyslexic. That diagnosis has provided him with a connection to a specific group of students. "The kids I gravitate to are those with special needs. I deal better with special needs kids than with other kids. We need to keep them motivated and out of trouble, help them become what they can instead of what people tell them they are," said Artinger.
Artinger has been around so long that he taught many of the teachers who now serve in the county.
"I'm going to miss some of the people I've met. I'll miss the friendships," he said. "Education has changed drastically. Kids have changed. There's less parenting going on. There are so many broken homes." He also speaks across the nation about drop-out prevention.
He said teachers need to get to know the students - and find out why they act as they do. "I will never raise my voice to anyone during disciplinary. They may have never heard a calm voice before. Kids need to know someone cares about them. If teachers did that, education would be a breeze," he said.
And now he's finishing up.
"I'm looking forward to retiring. You know when it's time to get out. You know when it's time," he said.
A party will be held in his honor in the coming weeks. School staff have a board at the school where they are posting a countdown to his retirement with old photos daily.
The Artingers have three daughters and five grandchildren. His retirement will allow them more time with the family.
And although he has given up working in high schools, Artinger may teach on the college level in Florida. He has experience, having taught at Cecil College for a few semesters.