"The Greatest Person spotlights ordinary and extraordinary people in Patch communities whose acts of courage, determination, volunteerism, and/or compassion have made a difference in their towns, and who inspire and energize others to strengthen their communities and improve lives."
And what better way than to start off with a man who spent 35 years of his life enriching the lives of America's future? Dave Willauer, former Royersford Elementary School principal, is a volunteer, a blogger and even still after retiring, continues to help out within the Spring-Ford Area School District.
Willauer retired last year after 10 years of elementary education and 25 years of leading the school as principal. He spent all 35 of his years in one building, which was a rarity.
"The more I talked to my fellow principals in other districts and at various state and national conventions," Willauer said, "It’s rare to spend your whole career at one school. It was tough making the transition from teacher to principal, because one day I was a colleague and the next I was the boss. I was never real comfortable with the title boss anyway. I think it took me a while to get used to that."
However, Willauer became adjusted and ultimately benefitted from it.
"Spending all 35 years, I think, really helps you connect to the community," he said. "The parents knew me, they knew what I stood for. There was a certain level of mutual respect that existed there and I think that served me well as far as having a second generation of kids from former students coming through the school. It was a good thing I think."
Over the years, Willauer has been a trustee of the Royersford Free Public Library, a member of the rotary club, a volunteer for the food outreach pantry and involved with his church - the Parker Ford Church of the Brethren. He has also recently become involved with Ram Country Television, helping Spring-Ford TV Director Steve Bonetz teach interested students about television and putting together shows about the district's community.
Willauer also helped begin the Cool School Summer Enrichment Program to help transition pre-K and kindergarten students on to the next levels of their academic lives by making a fun program to experience in the summers.
After retirement, the skillsets he learned from his father, a baker, and his mother, a 40-plus year correspondent for the Pottstown Mercury, are now being used for his blog There's a Dad in the Kitchen, which appears on Patch and The Spring-Ford Reporter.
Overall, Willauer has been glad to see the community grow and prosper.
"The Spring-Ford community is an absolutely amazing community," he said. "I have really appreciated the level of support that has been provided over the years. Not just to me as an individual, but to the school and the school district specifically. We’ve had community members who would donate things to the school. They’d donate their time and energy. It just was always very gratifying to have that level of support."
And it couldn't be done without the parents within the district.
"I really appreciate the support of parents," said Willauer. "The support is there almost without exception. I do think you can never have too much of that support. So, there are programs and opportunities for increased involvement as far as the community is concerned and I do want to encourage them to volunteer."