He carries boxes and helps in the cafeteria. He fixes equipment, counsels students, referees games, and, according to Martha Dickinson, a second-grade teacher who has worked with him for more than 20 years, he "is a great spender -- the only person I know who can make a penny stretch a mile."
Spring Garden Elementary Principal Larry Bair has even been known to pull loose teeth.
After 32 1/2 years, 28 as an administrator in Carroll, Bair is finishing his last week of school.
"He will not be replaced," said Carol Pfoutz, a secretary at Spring Garden. "You would kill yourself trying to do what he has done."
Bair, 54, has worked as an administrator since 1969, when, at 26, he became vice principal of Manchester Elementary School.
The next summer, he became principal at Robert Moton Elementary in Westminster. He was principal at Hampstead Elementary from 1974 until the opening of Spring Garden in 1991.
The first job for the graduate of Pennsylvania's Shippensburg University was as a fifth-grade teacher at Northern Elementary School in Dillsburg, Pa. After four years of teaching, he had earned his master's degree from Shippensburg and decided that he could have more impact as a principal.
"I just truly enjoyed these many years," Bair said. "Most people don't have the opportunity to not only have success in schools but to work in the same community for so long. And to be this successful, and to have the support of the community, is something that I'm very proud of."
All that support didn't come by accident, say parents who worked with Bair in the PTA and other school organizations and events.
"I really am going to miss him because he really is truly there for the students," said Kathy Crumbaugh, who has been active in the PTA of two schools at which Bair was principal. "He's very friendly, everybody knows him, he knows the students, and he knows how to make a classroom work."
"A lot of people say it, but children really always were his priority," said Kim Burden, president of the Spring Garden PTA. "He managed to balance and unite parents, teachers and the common good of the children."
Burden and Pfoutz lauded Bair's communication skills, community orientation and what Pfoutz called his willingness to "give time for anything children might be involved in."
"I'd like students to say they looked at me as a person that was fair and created an environment where they wanted to be in school and enjoyed going to school, and that I was one of the people who made school special for them," Bair said.
"I remember talking to him in the cafeteria about finding a new mascot for Spring Garden Elementary [when it was opening]," said Jennifer Crumbaugh, now an eighth-grader at North Carroll Middle School. "I was in second grade and I'd have a new idea every day, and I remember him just sitting there, listening."
'Mr. Bair, tooth guy'
Bair is also remembered for his tooth-removal skills. At lunchtime, he occasionally pulls a student's loose tooth with a napkin.
"It's like Mr. Bair, tooth guy," said Jennifer.
"It's just something that happens," Bair says. "They won't pull [their own teeth], so, when they're hanging by a thread, I will do it for them. They put a lot of trust and faith in me."
Vice Principal Jackie Powell describes Bair as a highly visible principal, one who's noted for the high-fives he gives children as they leave each afternoon.
"It seemed like he enjoyed what he was doing. He was always there with us, he didn't just sit in his office," said fifth-grader Chris Kron.
After retiring, Bair plans to spend time with his family, travel, read and indulge his hobbies.
"It's going to be a career change," he says, "Basically, the emphasis will be more on things I want to do and less on things I have to do."
Things he wants to do include antiquing, gardening, fishing, hunting and traveling the country with Bonnie, his wife of 34 years.
The couple have three children, and two of them, Richard, 33, and Amy, 25, plan to become teachers. Their son Darryl, 30, is a surveyor in Westminster.
Pub Date: 6/04/97