Strayer principal to answer higher calling

Principal Derek Peiffer

By Gary Weckselblatt

Over the years, Msgr. John Murphy of St. Thomas More Church has tried to get Derek Peiffer to become principal of the K-8 church school in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown.

Peiffer grew up two blocks from the church, where he and his children -- Emily and Ryan -- were baptized. Peiffer and his wife Annjeanette regularly attend services there.

"When he wants something, he's very persistent," Peiffer said of Murphy. "Very nice, but very persistent."

The reverend has finally accomplished his goal. Peiffer, principal at Strayer Middle School, will be leaving the Quakertown Community School District in late June, after the end of the current school year, to become the principal at St. Thomas More School..

"This is a great school district and a great community," said Peiffer, who's spent 18 years in QCSD. "We have amazing parents and students that do great things for this community and beyond. I've never worked with a more dedicated and professional group of people than our teachers, ever.

"I have mixed emotions about leaving, but this is the right opportunity for me. It is my calling at this point in my life to give back to the church community."

Peiffer said the ability to "share my faith with students" is a "dream job at this point in my career."

A board member of the Quakertown Community Education Foundation, Peiffer studied to become a social studies teacher at Kutztown. He received his principal's certification and master's degree at Lehigh. Peiffer's first teaching job was at Sacred Heart School in Allentown, where he taught social studies, English, science, religion and physical education.

After one year, he left to become a social studies teacher at Emmaus High School, where he worked for 10 years. From there he was hired to be an assistant principal at Quakertown Community High School. In 2004, he became principal at Milford Middle School, before leading Strayer for the last four years.

"I'm more connected to the Quakertown community than the community I live in," Peiffer said. "But I want to talk about the religious aspect of life with students. I want to teach it. I'll have the opportunity to share my faith, and that's important to me."

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].

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