By Dc. Tom Cuskey

Allen Bidwell was recently named vice principal at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse.

While new to Bishop Ludden and the Diocese of Syracuse, Bidwell is no stranger to the education process. He received undergrad and advanced degrees from Le Moyne College and has taught in Fulton and at Henninger High School in Syracuse. His administrative experience came through OCM BOCES.

His prior experience had little to do with pedagogy but taught him invaluable life lessons.

“Before I came to teaching, I worked for New Process Gear for almost 20 years,” he said. “I’m a tradesman, a skilled tradesman, tinsmith and welder by trade.” When the NPG plant closed, Bidwell took a new direction in life. He went to school to become a schoolteacher, and now a vice principal.

Was this something new or were the roots of the career change planted earlier?

“I thought about it, but if you asked me back in my 20s, I’d say ‘no way.’ My original direction when I went to college was something in the medical field, but the students convinced me, because I was tutoring them, that I should go into education. And when I found my way through education, it was not my original direction. But I love every moment of it now.”

Bidwell’s personal experience positions him to be able to model to students about keeping one’s options open, never being afraid to try something new and becoming a lifelong learner.

“I like to tell my students that it’s never too late to change direction. You don’t need to know when you graduate what you want to do for a living,” he shared. And in today’s marketplace, change may be inevitable. “You can reinvent yourself at any time and in the world we live in today, the majority of people do reinvent themselves. It’s not the old traditional 30 years in a career and then retire.”

Bidwell said he has been pulled toward private-school education and sees a Catholic education being more akin to being on a mission, noting the long and often challenging history of the Church. “There’s nothing that we can’t overcome. I’ve been talking to a lot of people and I feel that there’ll be a resurgence in Catholic education in the near future.”

One of the primary goals he has set for himself this year is to bring more students to the Ludden experience. “I’d like to increase the population in the school, recruit more students to a Catholic education and increase enrollment.” It’s an achievable goal based on the enthusiasm Bidwell brings to the table. “Now I feel happy when I come to work. I love being a teacher.”

Bidwell and his wife, Kathy, have two children and they are parishioners of Pope John Paul XXIII in Liverpool.

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