Dr. Paul Wittekind Receives the Joseph Kneip Award

Dr. Paul Wittekind Receives the Joseph Kneip Award

Pictured above are former recipients of the Joseph A. Kneip Award. Back row: Mr. Dave Feichtner, Mr. Bill Becker, Mr. Jim Swedenburg, Mrs. Mary Beth Hausfeld, Mr. Dan Starkey, and Mr. Fred Widmeyer. Front row: Mr. Bill Carey, Mr. John Gutzwiller, Ms. Mellen Moors-Dressing, Dr. Paul Wittekind, Mr. Jack Butz, Mr. Jim Uhrig, and Mrs. Sue Ariss. 

On Wednesday, April 25, Dr. Paul Wittekind was the recipient of the 2018 Joseph A. Kneip Faculty/Staff Distinguished Service Award. "Doc" was nominated for his 24 years of service, all at Roger Bacon High School. In nominating him, Ms. Betsy Moore said “Not only does he have vast knowledge of the subject, but he also engages the students and finds ways to make the material interesting. He tries to make learning fun for the students lucky enough to have him as a teacher."

Tom Burke '69, President of Roger Bacon stated, "Doc is a man of faith and a great example of what it means to be Franciscan. He generously gives of his time, talent and treasure to support our kids and make a difference in their lives."

Ms. Mellen Moors-Dressing (2015 Joseph A. Kneip Recipient) introduced "Doc" at an all-school assembly that also included former award winners and the Wittekind Family. Below is a portion of her remarks.

Most good teachers go way out of their way for their students, and Paul is no exception. He’s here early for the 7:30/50 Club. Those 50 pushups are not always the easiest for him, but he’s leading by example. He allows students to sit in his room after school if they need a place to hang before another activity. For two years he was asked to moderate the Senate. 

In addition to the extra activities I’ve already mentioned, he has served our students spiritually as well. He was a faculty leader on Kairos and chaperoned the first Assisi Scholar pilgrimage to Italy with me in 2014. We both discussed how spiritual that experience was.

However, we ALL know what his claim to fame really is:

Flash back to 1994:  he is hired at RB. He brought with him this crazy idea of Underwater Hockey. Everyone laughed at him. He persevered. Still, many laughed, but a few started to try it. Go to ANY event inside or outside RB with Doc, and you will see him “advertise” for UWH:  he carries his business card, chats up the club, and educates EVERYONE on Underwater Hockey. 

In the 21 years we have had UWH, he has had articles written in the Enquirer and Hilltop Press. Shoot, even his license plate advertises it.  He spends just about every Sunday year round with students in the pool practicing for upcoming tournaments. He has taken his teams all over the world to compete. His team holds UWH camps each summer for grade-school children. His perseverance has paid off.  He has a long list of graduates who still come back to help. RB’s UWH, as you already know, is the only high school team in the United States and still has garnered 4 National titles. It’s also a big deal when one is asked, as Paul has been, to coach the USA team three times.

Usually a teacher or student with deep RB school pride will be labeled as bleeding brown and white. Paul bleeds chlorine, hockey pucks, fins/flippers, snorkels, and anything UWH. His team does as well.

One of the attributes that separates the recipients of this award from the rest of the faculty and staff is longevity of service. Joe Kneip taught here for 37 years. Bacon was his career. There is something to be said for passing up other opportunities to stay here, to be called to serve not just as a teacher and role model, but also as a Catholic/ Christian one. All of the past recipients, like Joe Kneip, have spent the majority if not their entire professional career here. That speaks volumes. Dr. Paul J. Wittekind deserves to join this group.

Congratulations, Doc.  You certainly are a valued member of the Spartan family, and we are lucky to have you as a colleague, teacher, and friend.