The founding principal of Delmarva Christian High School lost his battle with cancer last month, leaving behind a legacy that his colleagues say will guide the school for years to come.
W. Scott Kemerling, 63, passed away in Boise, Idaho on March 22, roughly a year after he retired as principal of DCHS.
"With his wife Sheryl at his side, Scott remained steadfast in his faith, finishing the race with perseverance and strength, all the while bringing glory to God," said Susan Gum, the marketing director for DCHS who worked with Kemerling for about 10 years. "It was very quiet and peaceful, and his wife sat and sang hymns to him as he went home."
Kemerling was born in Alaska and attended college in Missouri, where he met his wife. Following graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps and was stationed at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland. He later moved his family to Alabama to enroll in the U.S. Army Aviation Center to become an aerospace rescue and recovery pilot.
Kemerling's military career spanned the course of over 20 years, and during that time, he was awarded the Airman's Medal – the Air Force's highest non-combat heroism award – for entering the burning wreckage of a B-57 Canberra in the Florida swamp, removing the pilot, and securing him to the helicopter hoist. His final Air Force assignment took him to Dover, where upon his retirement he attained the rank of major.
Following his retirement, Kemerling taught at Woodbridge High School in Bridgeville, and later transferred to Polytech High School in Woodside. In 1994, he was named Teacher of the Year, and in 1997, he graduated from Regent University with a master's degree in Educational Leadership. He advanced to vice principal, principal, and ultimately superintendent of curriculum at Polytech.
In 2002, the DCHS board of directors hired Kemerling to serve as the school's first principal. According to Gum, Kemerling led the school in achieving accreditation in the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, as well as the Association of Christian Schools International, and he was instrumental in growing the school from 60 students on opening day to almost 200 today.
"Most importantly, Scott will be remembered through the legacy he left behind; a legacy marked by dedication, commitment, service, and above all, a love for the Savior he faithfully served," Gum said.
When Kemerling got sick, he retired from DCHS. He and his wife moved to Idaho to be closer to their children. He is survived by Sheryl, three children and their spouses, 11 grandchildren, and a sister and brother-in-law, according to Gum.
DCHS Secretary Pip Spicer, who was Kemerling's administrative assistant for eight years, said she has never worked for someone with "such a heart of servanthood. He was a really strong leader, but he was the first one to get his hands dirty."
Page 2 of 2 - Spicer said she was always in awe of how well Kemerling worked with parents.
"I heard him many times talking on the phone with parents who may be having a problem and I was just amazed by how he could calm them down, bring them on board, make them feel heard, and solve problems," she said. "He just had a way of working with people. He was really an amazing man."
Richard Trice, a math instructor at DCHS who worked with Kemerling for six years, said the former principal had a tremendous heart for the students.
"Their successes and failures went right to his heart," Trice said. "Also, at the same time as being a boss, Scott was like a shepherd over a flock. He cared about the people who worked for him."
Trice added that Kemerling was always available to help parents by "working alongside of them in their challenges in raising teenagers."
Kemerling's family held a service in Idaho on March 27. Gum said the staff at DCHS has tentative plans for a memorial service at the school in June, when Sheryl Kemerling will be in Georgetown.