WESTFIELD, NJ — Eugene “Gene” Ehrlich, technology teacher at Westfield’s Edison Intermediate School, is retiring after 50 years in the district.
“It has been my pleasure working with the students, staff, and administration in the Westfield Public Schools,” Ehrlich wrote in an email to TAPinto Westfield. “I consider myself most fortunate to have worked at a job that I love, in a comfortable and supportive environment, for so many years.”
At the school board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Margaret Dolan discussed Ehrlich’s impact on the district.
“Gene has provided technology education for thousands of students, beginning with a data processing course in 1969 and progressing along with the evolution of the field to current courses which include problem-solving and decision-making while utilizing technology,” Dolan said. “Gene places particular emphasis on the social and ethical aspects of technology, and this provides lifelong awareness for the students.”
Ehrlich reflected on how his teaching career has developed, writing to TAPinto Westfield that becoming a teacher was not his original long-term goal.
“I accepted this job with the understanding that it would only be a temporary position for me. I was working evenings on my M.B.A. program, and my ultimate career goal was to become CFO of a major corporation,” Ehrlich said.
“At that time,” he said, “computers were becoming increasingly important in business, and it was exciting being a pioneer in computer education, or data processing education, as it was referred to in those days.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience teaching at WHS, and one year just naturally went into the next; and, even after earning my M.B.A., I postponed my pursuit of a career in corporate finance,” he added. “In fact, my philosophy has always been to take one year at a time. So, from my perspective, it hasn’t been 50 years teaching; but, rather, one more year teaching, 50 times.”
Over the past five decades, Ehrlich has taught at the following schools in Westfield:
- Westfield High School (1969-1989) teaching business education/data processing
- Westfield High School and Roosevelt Intermediate School (1989-1990) teaching business and computer education
- Edison Intermediate School (1990-2019) teaching computer technology
Ehrlich holds a bachelor's degree, a master's in business administration, master's degree from Seton Hall University, a doctorate from New York University, six teaching certifications and a certificate in educational administration.
Dolan also spoke about Ehrlich’s commitment to connecting with students outside the classroom.
While he has always been proud of the relevant content of his courses, he has added value by working with students outside of the classroom as well, Dolan said.
“Whether through his chamber music club, or chaperoning all kinds of student activities, or dressing in costume for the annual Edison student government event, Gene has made meaningful connections with the students,” she said.
Ehrlich founded the EIS Chamber Music Club 19 years ago, he says on his website, “so students could get together in a non-competitive environment to learn about, listen to and play chamber music.”
Ehrlich is retiring next month to spend more time with his family, Dolan said.
Ehrlich’s wife is a former preschool director and current preschool teacher, Ehrlich writes on his website.
His two daughters, one a neurologist and the other a marine biologist, were both students at Edison and had their father as a computer teacher, the website says.
“Gene’s wife and daughters are thrilled that he is retiring so that he can spend more time with his family,” Dolan said. “We wish him well in his next phase of life, after serving Westfield for 50 years.”
Ehrlich retires on June 30. He told TAPinto Westfield that, though his decision was difficult, now felt like the right time.
“Loving my job as much as I do, the decision to retire was extremely difficult. While my heart still tells me to continue to follow my philosophy and teach for one more year, I am reminded by family and friends that no matter how much a person loves their job, they cannot work forever,” Ehrlich wrote.
“Accepting this reality,” he said, “although I am still able to do my job, my mind tells me that after teaching in Westfield for half a century, this might be a good time to step aside, make room for someone else, retire and begin a new chapter in my life.”
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