January 04, 2012 - Bill Snyder is a marathon man.
BMS Principal Bill Snyder will retire later this month. Photo by David Fleet. (click for larger version)
With 24 Boston Marathons and countless other road races on his resume, at 68-years-old Snyder has endured the rigorous 26.2 miles for many years.
While his stellar athletic accomplishments are remarkable—his longevity and contributions in the classroom are just as notable.
Now, after more than 45 years in education, including,15 years as Brandon Middle School principal, Snyder will step down later this month.
"The first morning I don't have to go to work, I'm going running," laughed Snyder, who hopes to run his 25th Boston Marathon this spring. "I'll have time to travel, including skiing in Colorado and perhaps more time to sail."
A South Carolina native, Snyder and his family relocated to Detroit where he attended Cooley High School. After graduation, he attended Wayne State University where he earned both a bachelor's degree and master's degree.
"My first teaching job was at Wyandotte Junior High School in 1966," he said. "After the Detroit riots in 1967, a few of my teacher friends decided we'd try to make a difference—so I quit my job in Wyandotte and went to work in the Detroit Public Schools. I was there 22 years—as a teacher and including time as a principal at two different schools."
Snyder later worked in the Cass City and Ypsilanti school districts before coming to Brandon in 1996.
"The first two years in the Brandon District the middle school, grades sixth to eighth, were in the high school," he said. "That was a challenge—big age differences.But the community passed a bond and we moved in to the Brandon Middle School in 1998."
Over the years, Snyder has seen little changes in youth.
"All kids basically have the same needs and wants," he said. "They may all dress a little different, they have different skin color, but that's it. The students in middle school, 12-14 years old, can truly be molded by educators—they are very open. We can still make a difference here, and we do, and they will continue to long after I'm gone. This is a team effort."
Snyder believes technology has had a major influence on students.
"It's a huge impact—students are much more isolated now as a result. Information is much more immediate and our schools reflect our society."
"Middle school educators are different, too. It's a tough job with all the emotion students have at that age and the short attention span," he said. "But the staff we have here at Brandon Middle School has stayed and just been outstanding. There are some super teachers here—that's what make this school so special."
"There are some great young teachers out there—and our students have a great future. Right now we have a serious economic crisis going on, but we'll get by that."
Snyder admits he'll miss the school.
"Think about it— every day I'm in contact with 500 to 600 students and staff—I'm going to have to replace that interaction someway," he laughed.
Snyder said he'll volunteer more time for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen servicing the people of metro Detroit and the Detroit Adult Well-Being Services. Some of that time will be spent teaching education classes at Wayne State University—both in the classroom and online. Also, perhaps a short-term administrative job is in the future, he said.