Saying goodbye to the most loved teacher at Hershey High School


Emma Galvez, Reporter

Having a loved and unforgettable teacher who impacts your life through all four years of your high school career is hard to find. 

Richard Bittinger is one of the most loved teachers here at Hershey High School. 

Bittinger knew that he wanted to become a teacher because of one of his teachers in high school. 

“My senior year of high school, I had a teacher. He was nuts, he was crazy, but he was the most intelligent man I probably ever met,” Bittinger said, “He looked like Lurchfrom the Addams family, he was tall and intimidating, and people were scared to talk in his class.”

Before college, Bittinger went to Central Dauphin East High School and graduated in 1984. He has lived in Pennsylvania all his life. 

While he was in high school, he was mostly interested in sports. Bittinger picked up games after school, even if they weren’t for the school. He also had a job at a grocery store for 5 years. His first job out of high school he worked at a toy store at the East Mall.  

Bittinger started college at Penn State York before transferring to Lebanon Valley College where he graduated with a degree in English. He later earned his masters degree in English from Millersville University. After college he started working for Hershey. He has taught at Hershey all 35 years of his career. 

Bittinger was unsure of whether he wanted to teach English or math. Either way, he would have been happy to teach. Currently, he teaches English for sophomores and seniors.

Bittinger’s favorite year to teach was last year (2021-22) “Last year was a lot of fun, because coming back after covid, coming back to normal, and I had fantastic kids last year,” Bittinger said. 

If he could, he wouldn’t go back to change his career path. “As far as teaching, I didn’t have any desire to go into administration or teach in college,” said Bittinger.

However, he would go back and regain his connections with his students from early in his career.  “Before my daughter was born, I was more involved with the school and activities, there were times as the year went on that I lost that connection with students,” said Bittinger.

Through the years, Bittinger has gone through stress like everyone does. He has coped with it though,knowing there will be a new class coming in next. 

“Even if there was one student or one class was stressful, you know that there’s a whole new class coming in. The people always bring you out of it,  Bittinger said. Taking work home was something Bittinger stressed over the most. 

Bittinger has changed from the past with homework, grades, and tests. He thinks that the school has backed away, grades have been more lenient. Bittinger thinks that teachers have made it easier to get better grades. But, he thinks teachers have gone too soft with it. However, we are going in the right direction.

Bittinger thinks that the school has grown in many ways and that the school board is making positive changes for the kids with academics and having the students being more involved with extra curriculars. In his opinion, he thinks that the students need to be more involved with school in general and the teachers need to not be as distant with their students.

Since Bittinger is leaving this year, he is going to miss Reinert and Balanda the most. He was, and still is, very close with these teachers throughout the years. “It’s nice because I feel like I have so many people in each department that I enjoyed just talking to,”  Bittinger said. 

He has always loved working with the kids. “The kids are the best part, the excitement and working with them.” He loved the way his students made it challenging for him in a good way.

During his retirement, he is planning on being more involved in his lawn care business. Additionally, he plans to complete the long list of chores around the house his wife has made for him over the last 20 years. He mentioned that he could see himself volunteering at another school, but he does not plan on being a substitute teacher because it won’t be the same. He is looking forward to not having to grade, and feeling guilty for not planning lessons or missing out on things with friends and family. 

One thing he wants to be remembered for as he is leaving this high school is that he loved working with every student he has had. Also, he wants to make sure that the students know that making mistakes is ok.

Many teachers at Hershey High School are going to miss Bittinger for many reasons, whether it is because they have been working together for a while, or they are just really close with him.

Monica Briener is one of those teachers. Briener teaches World History, and Psychology. She would describe him as a person who wants his students to succeed, very caring, and dedicated. 

Briener was nominated as homecoming queen with Bittinger this year. Unfortunately, Briener hasn’t worked with Bittinger in any way for classes, but they do have bus duty together. 

Miriam Collins is another teacher who has become very close with Bittinger through the years. Collins has been teaching for 29 years and Collins teaches Civics. She has worked with Bittinger her whole career. She would describe him as a wonderful, caring teacher who loved to make good connections with his students and staff. 

While Briener and Collins are very close with Bittinger,  John Walizer knows Bittinger the most. Walizer teaches math, Walizer has worked at Hershey for 26 years. He thinks that Mr. Bittinger is a student’s kind of teacher. 

“He goes out of his way to help his students and to make them successful,” said Walizer. He also thinks that Bittinger is a very dedicated person, whether it’s with his students or the school in general. 

Bittinger and Walizer are very good friends out of school, “He is someone who would do anything for me and I would also do anything for him.” 

One of Bittingers students, Kaydence Burkholder, a senior, has Words that Change the World with him in 2nd period. She thinks that it is cool that Bittinger is leaving this year because it’s like he is leaving with all the seniors as well. She described him as a very energetic, and funny person. Shehas learned a lot from him. 

“He is very interesting with this teaching, but it intrigued me unlike other English teachers,” said Burkholder.

Maddie Copeland has Bittinger for English honors 10th period. Copeland described Bittinger as energetic, hilarious, and overall very loving. “It’s really sad that more people won’t have chances to be in his class,” said Copeland. “but I’m very thankful that I got a chance to be in his class.”

Since Bittinger is leaving this school year, “If you know you are leaving you stop and smell the roses a little bit, so the little things I will appreciate this year.”