Michael Schultz, principal, The Chapel School

Local heads of school in Westchester, Fairfield and Dutchess counties talk about lessons learned from the pandemic, inspiration, superpowers, what makes them smile and – in one case – the benefits of dogs on campus.

The Chapel School (TCS), an arm of the ministry of Village Lutheran Church in Bronxville, has been serving a diverse community of families in Westchester and the Bronx since 1947. TCS provides academic challenge and excellence as well as character education and opportunities for social, emotional and spiritual growth to children in preschool through eighth grade.

Having just completed his fifth year as principal, Michael Schultz will kick off his 26th year at The Chapel School in Bronxville this fall. He previously served as athletic director and assistant principal/middle school principal. A former professional baseball player and graphic designer, Schultz earned degrees in business administration, teaching and colloquy from Concordia and Iona colleges as well as a coaching certification in baseball. 

Tell us something surprising about your school. 

“Parents have told me that we have a sense of family here that should be bottled and sold. Our reliance upon each other and our ability to function as cooperative partners is like no other school or work environment I have known.”

How did your school cope during the pandemic? 

“We coped because of the dedication of our faculty and staff. They were coming to work every day for those who needed in-person learning and livestreaming their classes for those who needed to stay home and learn remotely. The additional (Department of Health)-recommended hygiene practices helped us to make this the healthiest year I can recall in all of my years here at the school. We were minimally impacted by Covid and other common ailments that usually make their way through a school during a school year.”

Which aspects of running a school are most appealing to you? 

“I get to help teachers hone their craft and embrace their creativity and dedication so that more and more students are positively impacted by their efforts.”

What superpower do you bring to the school? 

“Faith and trust. I am surrounded by great people — our pastors, school secretary, team leaders, teachers, teacher aides — and I trust them to do what is best for the children entrusted to their care.”

What led you to choose education as a career? 

“I had coached baseball (McClintock Chargers, Tempe, Arizona,) and then taught an illustration course to gifted and talented students at Concordia, when I finally realized that education was my calling. I even turned down a few offers to be a “scab” during the MLB strike while I was in grad school, which was an indication that I had found a new passion.”

What reaffirms your career choice? 

“Since we were back in person in September, the laughter on the playground makes me smile every day. But very recently, I got messages from two former students who are now 30 and 29, thanking me for being a positive influence in their lives some 15 plus years ago. Sometimes the best gratification is far from instant.”

Did you have a favorite teacher who affected your life?

“Phil Kuczma was my ninth-grade earth science teacher at Bronxville (High School) and my varsity baseball coach. My eldest brother passed from cancer in October of my senior year and Coach Kuczma was there for me — opening the gym early, staying late, throwing my (batting practice) on Sundays, helping me with college coaches. I experienced the positive impact that a teacher/coach can have at what was the lowest point of my life and decided that I wanted to pay it forward.”

How do you recharge in your free time?  

“I am hitting coach/assistant varsity baseball coach at Bronxville High School, and I love to golf and spend time with my three children.”

The Chapel School at a glance

  • Head of school: Michael Schultz
  • Number of faculty and staff: 48
  • Student enrollment: 251
  • Annual tuition: $5,950 to $14,995

For more, visit thechapelschool.org

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