History in the classroom

Beloved Pennsbury High School teacher Keith Myers retires after 45 years as an educator

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Not many people can say they found their life’s passion in the fourth grade. But Bensalem’s Keith Myers certainly did. After falling in love with the subject of American history as an elementary student, he dedicated his entire career to sharing his knowledge with young minds in Philadelphia and Bucks County. But all good things must come to an end. Myers shut the door of his classroom for the last time this school year as he retires after 45 years in education.

End of an era: Pennsbury High School history teacher Keith Myers smiles proudly on his last day in the classroom after 45 years as an educator. PHOTO: HEATHER WALTER

Most kids growing up claim recess or lunch to be their favorite parts of the school day. For Myers, it was American history. There was just something about learning the story of the founding fathers and the events that shaped our nation that intrigued him. What started as a hobby soon turned into a serious career goal.

Myers attended LaSalle College in the ’70s and, not surprisingly, majored in history. He knew he was meant to share his love of the subject with young minds, but he quickly learned there were few jobs available as a professor of history. To have a shot at one of those rare positions, a master’s degree and doctorate would be required, which was more schooling than he was willing to put in.

With the dream of teaching his favorite subject still very much alive, he decided to give educating at the high school level a chance. Myers completed six months of student teaching at Archbishop Ryan and landed a full-time position at Archbishop Wood, where he taught 11th and 12th grades for 16 years. At Wood, he worked closely with the National Honor Society students in his history classes, helping them set up internships and research studies in the field, which included work at Pennsbury Manor and archival work in Fallsington.

In 1989, Myers made the switch to Pennsbury High School, where he happily stayed for the remainder of his career teaching ninth-grade history. Though he spent more than four decades in the classroom, the only major change he noticed in the students was the steadily growing age gap.

“My students went from being like younger siblings to children to grandchildren,” he laughed. “But they’re all my non-biological children.”

In addition to the increasing age gap, he experienced the rise of technology in education. Overhead projectors became a thing of the past, and most textbooks and full libraries became available online. Surprisingly enough, his students still appreciated the feel of a good, old textbook. At the end of each school year, he would put some used books out by the trash, only for them to be collected by the students, who would walk the halls with stacks in their arms.

Though history might not be every teen’s favorite subject in the world, the self-proclaimed “stand up comedian” made it work. He made his classes fun and allowed his love for the subject to shine through in his lectures.

“Find what you like and a way to make money out of it, and it won’t ever feel like work,” he said.

It was his ability to truly teach students something new and create a desire to learn that will make him sorely missed in the Pennsbury halls. One of his past freshman students who is going into her senior year started crying hysterically in the middle of the hallway when she learned he was retiring.

“She told me I was the first teacher she didn’t hate, so I guess that’s a good thing,” he reflected.

Still, his legacy will live on through the lessons he instilled in his students. Three came back to Pennsbury as history teachers, and he had the pleasure of working alongside them as colleagues. Another whom he taught in the ’70s is the proud owner of Vincenzo’s Pizza in Bensalem. Paul Hipp, whom Myers taught at Wood, went on to star as Buddy Holly on Broadway and now plays Reverend Tim Tom in ABC’s The Middle.

On Myers’ last day of work on Thursday, June 15, his children and grandchildren came to the school, where he introduced them to his colleagues and showed them his classroom.

“It was a really nice ending,” he said.

With the school year done, it seems like any other summer break. But according to Myers, the fact he’s not returning to Pennsbury will really set in come September.

“I would go at least five more years,” he said.

Though he has no long-term plans for retirement, he’s excited to visit his shore house in Ocean City during the off season, babysit his grandchildren and take small trips with his wife, which he says have to include at least one visit to a history-related place per trip. ••