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One night as David Archibald ’68 was nearing the end of his college studies, he found himself in a movie theater watching Sidney Poitier play the role of an engineer who challenges himself by becoming a teacher in London’s rough East End in the film To Sir, with Love.

At the time, he was an economics major interviewing with area banks and financial institutions, but Archibald was so moved that the very next day he began researching graduate programs for professionals looking to become educators.

He discovered what he was looking for at Temple University and 37 years after taking his first teaching job, he found himself retiring as superintendent of the Lower Moreland School District with a unique honor.

This past spring, Archibald was named the first honorary graduate of Lower Moreland High School.

“Being named an honorary graduate is a humbling experience,” he says. “I have put my heart and soul in here — I think most educators do that because it’s part of the position. This is a really special place for me. It’s been a wonderful career and I’ve had a variety of jobs in a variety of school districts, but my work here has been the crowning experience professionally.”

When Archibald started in the district in 1991, he recognized that it had much going for it, but in many ways was lacking a sense of cohesion. Among the changes he spearheaded were holding an annual party for faculty to celebrate their work and recognize accomplishments; allowing all faculty to don a cap and gown and participate in commencements; devising a excellence pin program for staff, students, and community members as a way to strengthen ties and recognize excellence; coordinating community marches and benefits; and awarding retiring long-time school board members with honorary doctoral degrees.

“As I look back on my career, I really believe the culture we now have in this district and the sense of community we have here will last beyond me,” he says. “I feel very good about that and I’m humbled by the fact that this [award] says a lot about the impact I’ve had.”

“The honor was really special to me because at the end of every high school graduation ceremony, the superintendent has to ask the principal if everyone has completed all the requirements needed by the state,” he says. “When they did this for me, the high school principal took one podium and the director of curriculum took the other and he asked the principal if I had completed all of the necessary requirements.”

Fulfilling the requirements for such an honor was enabled in part by Archibald’s Lafayette education.

“It was a difficult program and I had to work hard,” he says. “A strong work ethic was taught in terms of what I needed to do to be a success there, but it prepared me to successful for I what I did in life. What I do more than anything in life is problem solve and mediate, and much of that was learned at Lafayette.”

Archibald adds that the broad-based, liberal arts education he received at Lafayette has been particularly helpful as an educator.

“It rounded me out extremely well,” he says. “I am much more balanced. I think I can speak on a variety of issues outside education and it prepared me better for a career in education and probably any career I would have gone into.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles