Yoder Leaves Big Impact on Tyrone High School Community

High School Principal Tom Yoder will officially retire on March 11 after a successful 15 year tenure at TAHS

Principal+Tom+Yoder%2C+seen+here+at+last+years+graduation+ceremony%2C+will+leave+TAHS+in+March+to+devote+his+time+to+his+new+position+as+mayor+of+Huntingdon%2C+PA.

Todd Cammarata

Principal Tom Yoder, seen here at last year’s graduation ceremony, will leave TAHS in March to devote his time to his new position as mayor of Huntingdon, PA.

After nearly fifteen years of service to the Tyrone Area School District, Tyrone Area High School principal Tom Yoder will officially retire on March 11. Under Yoder’s leadership, Tyrone has achieved unprecedented academic success while maintaining a positive school climate in which students, teachers, and staff feel safe and valued.

Yoder has presided over one of the most successful eras of academic success in the history of Tyrone Area High School, earning several state and national academic awards during his tenure.

“Mr. Yoder was always so supportive as a principal. He listened to your ideas, encouraged you to do your best, and understood when you struggled.”

— TAHS Teacher Amanda Burega

Tyrone currently outpaces almost every high school in Pennsylvania in several areas of academic achievement.

Ninety-three percent of Tyrone high school students are proficient or advanced in language arts and literature, compared to the statewide average of 62.1%. Ninety percent of Tyrone students are proficient or advanced in math and algebra compared to 45% statewide. Finally, TAHS has a 94% proficient or advanced score in biology compared to only 66% statewide.

For more detailed information on Tyrone High School’s academic success, click this link: TAHS Academic Report.

But the highlight of Yoder’s professional career came in 2015 when Tyrone Area High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education.

The National Blue Ribbon Award is the highest honor given to schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

“It was wonderful to see our students, teachers, and staff be recognized [at such a high level] for the hard work and dedication to academics,” said Yoder. “This is an amazing school community.”

Tyrone is the first, and so far the only high school in Blair County, to win a Blue Ribbon award, and only the third high school in central Pennsylvania to be honored in the award’s 33-year history.

Tyrone English teacher Steve Everhart credits Yoder’s leadership as a major reason that Tyrone earned the prestigious award.

“That accomplishment was made possible by his management style, which made each department accountable for student performance. He challenged the math department to increase growth in algebra—and our teachers implemented Get More Math, which in concert with excellent teaching virtually eliminated gaps among disadvantaged students. In fact, our disadvantaged kids in some subjects actually outperformed our non-disadvantaged kids,” said Everhart.

“Mr. Yoder never publicly took credit for any of these successes and was careful always to credit his staff. In truth, it was his quiet insistence on results with his resolute trust in his staff that motivated the success,” said Everhart.

Mr. Yoder never publicly took credit for any of these successes and was careful always to credit his staff. In truth, it was his quiet insistence on results with his resolute trust in his staff that motivated the success”

— TAHS Teacher Steve Everhart

Other recognitions earned under Yoder’s tenure include a US News and World Report: Best High Schools in America bronze medal in 2014.

In 2017, TAHS was third out of 653 high schools in Pennsylvania in PVAAS growth. PVAAS stands for Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System and is a statewide system used to track student growth.

In 2018, Tyrone High School’s score of 95.2 on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s school performance profiles was first in the state in PVAAS growth.

In 2019, the website SchoolDigger.com ranked Tyrone High as the tenth best high school in Pennsylvania.

But the Tyrone High School community appreciates Yoder for more than just winning awards and producing high academic scores.

Students and teachers describe Yoder as approachable, positive, supportive, respectful, funny, easy-going, genuine, and encouraging.

 “We will miss seeing Mr. Yoder’s warm welcoming face when we enter the building every morning,” said Tyrone senior Ashlee Walk. 

The teachers will miss Yoder’s steady leadership and encouragement.

“Mr. Yoder was always so supportive as a principal. He listened to your ideas, encouraged you to do your best, and understood when you struggled. He also had a great sense of humor and loved to add that humor into meetings,” said business teacher Amanda Burega.

Mr. Yoder wasn’t always about what went on within the walls of the school. He enjoys hearing about your family and what you have going on outside of school. He is a people person”

— TAHS Teacher Teresa Myers

According to Eagle Eye adviser Todd Cammarata, one of Yoder’s great strengths as a leader is that he trusts his staff and students and empowers them to do good things.

“I credit Mr. Yoder for a lot of the high school’s success over the past fifteen years. Teachers were never afraid to come to him with an idea, and he was always supportive and willing to let teachers and student groups experiment with new ideas. The result has been a school culture of respect between administrators, teachers, and students,” said Cammarata.

Ninth-grade English teacher Karissa Budny said that Yoder has always been available to her when she needed help or just someone to talk to.

“He was always willing to listen, whether I had a specific need or just needed to vent. He was understanding to both my outrageous laughter and my occasional tears. He cared about his staff and students tremendously,” said Budny.

Science teacher Ron Wilson had the opportunity to shadow Yoder one summer as a part of his master’s program and enjoyed the experience.  “He was always encouraging and supportive, no matter how many ridiculous questions I asked,” said Wilson.

Health teacher Teresa Myers appreciates that Yoder always took a personal interest in her and others.

“Mr. Yoder wasn’t always about what went on within the walls of the school. He enjoys hearing about your family and what you have going on outside of school. He is a people person,” said Myers.

Teachers and staff also appreciate Yoder’s sense of humor and generosity.

“Mr. Yoder would always walk past my office and pound on the window to scare me,” said middle school administrative assistant Becky Schreckengost.

“I will miss the short and to the point faculty meetings.  And the ice cream sundae bars that he would get for the teachers periodically,” said chemistry teacher Mike Funcelli.

Choir director Laura Harris shared a heartwarming story that highlights Yoder’s love for the arts and music.

“Mr. Yoder told me about a song that he absolutely loved and he shared a copy of the composition with me. Every year he would ask me if my group would be singing his song at the holiday concert and I would tell him that it was a little too religious for us to do,” said Harris.

“Finally, I decided that we should surprise him with a performance of the song. Every time we rehearsed the song, I would have one of my guys serve as a ‘lookout’ in the main hallway, just in case Mr. Yoder was headed down to the music suite since we wanted the song to be a surprise for him.”

“When we finally performed the song, it was obvious that it meant the world to him and the students were so happy that they got to do something special for Mr. Yoder,” said Harris.

Mr. Yoder was a great principal, and I feel lucky to also call him my friend. He will be missed very much”

— TAHS Teacher Kathy Beigle

According to superintendent Leslie Estep, the district has been fortunate to have Yoder lead the high school for the past fifteen years.

“We are very appreciative of the longevity and consistency that he has provided to our district. Mr. Yoder is a people person and cares about others in a way that shows compassion and his staff members have found that to be one of his strongest attributes,” said Estep.

In retirement, Yoder plans to do some of the traditional retirement activities such as travel and tending to his garden.

However, Yoder will be anything but a typical retiree. He will devote most of his time and energy to his duties as the new mayor of his hometown of Huntingdon.

A lifelong resident of Huntingdon, Yoder has previous experience in local politics, having served on the Huntingdon Borough Council for 12 years, from 1988 to 2000. He was also the president of the borough council for four years.

Yoder says he is excited for this new chapter in his life as the mayor of Huntingdon.  He hopes to focus on tourism and the economic development of downtown.

“The borough has so many beautiful historic buildings and such a rich history to share. In order for us to entice visitors, our town must be welcoming and attractive,” said Yoder.

“I think Huntingdon is lucky to have him representing their community; he will do a fabulous job in this new position,” said Tyrone High School administrative assistant Brooke Yaudes.

Even though he will be going back to his roots as a Huntingdon Bearcat, students and staff in Tyrone will always think of Yoder as a true Golden Eagle.

“Mr. Yoder was a great principal, and I feel lucky to also call him my friend. He will be missed very much,”  said English teacher Kathy Beigle.

I think Huntingdon is lucky to have him representing their community; he will do a fabulous job in this new position”

— TAHS Administrative Assistant Brooke Yaudes