Elder discovers new dynamic duo

Mr. Ruffing and Mr. Flaherty begin the year in their new roles as Principal and Dean of Discipline


photoshop by Andrew Schenkel

Elder’s new dynamic duo of Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Ruffing watch over Elder

During this school year, the freshman at Elder High School aren’t the only ones who will find themselves in a new position. Mr. Kurt Ruffing and Mr. Brian Flaherty will be adjusting to their new roles as Principal and Dean of Discipline along with the 98th graduating class of Elder High School.

Mr. Ruffing, a graduate of Elder in 1981 and faculty member for the past 30 years, takes over as Principal following the legendary tenure of Mr. Tom Otten who decided to retire in June of 2016 after nearly 50 years of service to Elder High School.

Ruffing and others knew of Otten’s retirement and have been planning for what would happen after the Elder great stepped down.

Planning for succession

“Five years ago, he (Otten) announced to the administrators that he would retire, so basically the next five years were succession planning, not that it was a guarantee that I would become principle, (I was) so fortunately it all worked out,” mentioned Ruffing.

Mr. Kurt Ruffing

Otten has also been a huge help to Ruffing in preparing him for his new duties as Principal.

Ruffing showed his gratitude for Otten by saying, “The transition has been very smooth thanks to Mr. Otten. The past five years, he was showing me a lot as far as Principal stuff and I had the opportunity to do a good amount of the Principal work so that’s really helped in the transition.”

Mr. Ruffing and Mr. Otten posing for pictures after the announcement of Elder's new Principal
photo by Kathy Hirth
Mr. Ruffing and Mr. Otten posing for pictures after the announcement of Elder’s new Principal

While Mr. Ruffing loves all his new responsibilities as Principal, he said he does miss one thing that he used to do as Dean of Discipline, reading the announcements every morning during homeroom. However, he doesn’t mind the extra free time early each day.

“I do like not having to worry about rushing in to my office every morning to be ready for announcements so I have a little more flexibility with my time which is always nice,” said Ruffing.

After finishing preparations for his new position, Ruffing had to make his first, and most important decision as Principal, picking the new Dean of Discipline. Ultimately, Ruffing chose Mr. Flaherty and the two have a lot of praise for each other.

The right choice

“He’s got a very good even temper, mild-mannered, and very humble man that knows what he’s doing so it’s been a pleasure working with him,” commented Ruffing on Flaherty.

Flaherty praised Ruffing on his fantastic leadership skills.

“Mr. Ruffing is an exceptional leader, a great guy, and a funny person. He’s very loyal and cares a lot about the students, the school, and the faculty.”

Mr. Brian Flaherty
photo from elderhs.net
Mr. Brian Flaherty

“I’ve learned  so much from him in the three weeks I’ve been on the job and he’s so energetic whether it’s six-thirty in the morning or three-thirty in the afternoon. His energy is unprecedented, he’s fun to work with, and a great leader, so if I was going to make this change, he would be the one guy I would want to make it for,” added Flaherty.

Mr. Flaherty has enjoyed his first few weeks as Dean of Discipline as well as adding that he is shocked how much busier he is each day while on the job.

“It’s a different day each day and I’m leaning tremendously on Mr. Ruffing for help and assistance. It’s kind of a learn as you go type of scenario. Anytime something new comes at me, I take it to Mr. Ruffing to see how he handled it and go from there,” said Flaherty.

Although Flaherty is thrilled to be the Dean of Discipline at Elder, he did mentioned how he missed being in the classroom as much as he used to be.

I’m glad I accepted the challenge and I’m glad I went ahead and did it.

— Mr. Brian Flaherty

Missing the classroom

He showed this by saying, “I still do teach two classes so I get a chance to teach every day. I do miss the comradery of seeing a bunch of different students and the faculty members on the second floor that I used to hang out with like Mr. Gergen and Mr. Bengal who I talked with on a daily basis. I miss it but it was the right time to make a change.”

“I’m glad I accepted the challenge and I’m glad I went ahead and did it because it’s pretty interesting so far,” added Flaherty.

Mr. Ruffing and Mr. Flaherty both seem to be really enjoying life at their new positions as Principal and Dean of Discipline and I believe they’ll do a great job as leaders of Elder High School.