Horticulture instructor Charles “Chuck” Feld and business instructor Dennis Johnson will retire June 1, announced Dr. Samuel Wrightson, vice president of education.
Feld, who began full-time at Williamson in 2007 and was part-time one year before, said “I hope I gave my students enough practical experience in all phases of the horticulture industry to allow them to be successful in whichever part of the field they choose. I taught them with books and hands-on experience, which every school does not do. I have run into students years after they graduated and they told me they learned alot of helpful information from me and that makes me feel good.”
Johnson, who began at Williamson in 1987 said, “I feel good about the time I spent teaching at Williamson because I had an impact in the lives of the young men here. I keep in contact with some of them and they let me know about their lives. That is a good feeling.”
Feld, a certified instructor of the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, hopes to come back in the fall as an adjunct instructor teaching horticulture and masonry students hardscaping, and plans to help students with their Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit.
His career included J. Franklin Styers Nurseries, where he was a nursery manager and landscape supervisor; running his own firm, Charles Feld Nursery Services, designing and building landscapes for homes; and then returning to Styers as general manager and later vice president.
Throughout his career, he has maintained Birmingham Gardens, a 4-acre nursery on his property in Chester County, specializing in propagating woody plants for sale to wholesale nurseries, a business he will maintain in retirement.
A well-known sandsculpter and owner of Sand Pounders, his own sand sculpting company, he is one of 250 master sand sculpters in the world and one of 65 in the United States.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture at Penn State and has taught part-time at Longwood Gardens.
This year’s exhibit in the Philadelphia Flower Show will be his 52nd, a show record, and two years ago he received a certificate of merit for his 50th show by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. A life member of the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (PLNA), he is in their Hall of Fame, and is a Pennsylvania certified horticulturist emeritus class.
He serves on the boards of PLNA, Birmingham Lafayette Cemetery, the Pennsylvania Foundation for Ornamental Horticulture, and the Birmingham Township Recreation Parks and Open space.
In retirement, he hopes to spend more time making sand sculptures and working for PLNA.
Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and a Pennsylvania Elementary Teaching Certificate at St. Joseph’s University and an MBA at Wilmington University.
He worked several years in business for several firms in supervising and accounting and then was a substitute teacher in grades 2-6 at Ridley School District. He also was an adjunct business and accounting instructor at Delaware County Community College, a role he holds while teaching at Williamson.
He decided to come to Williamson because he liked the school’s mission and felt he would be a good fit. He points out that Jack Tribit 7W0, then director of education, convinced him Williamson is where he belonged. In his early days, he was mentored by Glenn Stevick 4W0, director of paint and coatings technology, and Wayne Watson 4W8, board chairman.
“One of the things Glenn taught me is that we do more than classroom teaching, we are molding men of good character. That was something that attracted me to Williamson.”
Outside the classroom, he helps students complete their income taxes and after he teaches them how to do it, they help other students. He also helps students who are considering accepting a job offer understand the benefits package being offered to them and offers advice on personal financial questions such as how to invest.
As his time at Williamson nears its end he says, “I would like to thank President Michael Rounds and board chairman Bill Bonenberger for all they have done for me and for the school. Their goal is to ensure Williamson is here for another 100 years.
March 1st is Johnson’s 40th wedding anniversary with his wife Anne. They live in Drexel Hill and have two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary Kate.
In retirement, he plans to travel across the United States and return to Ireland. A 3-year fire police member of the Garrettford-Drexel Hill Volunteer Fire Department, he plans to get more active. He hopes to do more charity work in the community and maybe at Williamson. He also hopes to spend more time target shooting with his fellow instructor Frank Brown.