Currently the Director of School Support and Improvement of Elementary Schools, Pat Abrunzo prepares to retire after 53 years with Montgomery County Public Schools. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER
ROCKVILLE — Retiring Montgomery County Public Schools administrator Pat Abrunzo said he was about nine years old when he started waiting on customers in his father’s shoe repair shop.
Some of his father’s responsibilities involved a lot of physical labor, working on his feet for 10 to 12 hours per day, so he had his son deal with the public to realize the difference between “working with your hands versus working with your mind.” Abrunzo continued to assist his father throughout high school, helping at the shop whenever he was not playing sports or other extracurricular activities, and later as he attended Lycoming College in his hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Abrunzo learned to be respectful regardless of how people acted. He remained kind if customers complained about prices they thought were too expensive or services they thought weren’t quick enough. He grew to understand that individuals displayed different personalities in various situations.
Abrunzo’s ambition for teaching began in his junior year at Lycoming when the director of the college’s education department asked Abrunzo to read stories to an elementary school class in neighboring South Williamsport. At the time, Abrunzo was a biology major with plans to become a pharmaceutical salesman, but he had also been taking a few education classes and said to the director “OK, sure, no problem.”
After seeing the enthusiasm and excitement from those children as he read to them, Abrunzo’s career path changed.