Principal Retires

Career spans years of dedication to serving in secondary education


Evelyn Kennedy

At the class of 2019’s graduation ceremony Ralph Funk, principal, speaks one last time to the class of 2019. Funk will retire at the end of the school year. “Some people take four years to graduate from high school, I stayed for 40,” Funk said.

After 18 years of leading the high school, Principal Ralph Funk announced that he would be retiring at the end of the school year. Funk has been loved and celebrated by the students and faculty, both past and present, for his work at the school.

In 2001, Funk began his role as the principal at the school. His feelings as he began the job were described as excitement mixed with nervousness.

“I’m sure I was excited to be here… a new opportunity. It was a big school, a bigger school than the one I had been at,” Funk said.

Funk took a while to decide about his decision to retire. He said it was hard to say goodbye to the school because it has been his life for many years.

“It took a long time to reach that decision. I’ve been here for 18 years and a principal for 34 years. When you make that kind of a life change, it’s quite a decision,” Funk said.
Over the years, many teachers and staff have come to the school and experienced Funk’s leadership and friendship.

“He trusted his staff daily – to have integrity, to do the right thing when he wasn’t around. He gave us the tools we needed to do our jobs and he expected us to do our jobs without having to be asked or reminded, treating us as the professionals that we are,” Lisa McNeil, assistant principal, said. “[My best memory was] his introduction to the staff 18 years ago wearing his purple velvet suit with a big gold feather in his hat dancing to Funkytown,” McNeiladded.

Dr. Laura Underwood, assistant principal, recalls a humorous memory of when she first met Funk.

“I remember that, when I first came to Jersey Village to meet with Mr. Funk about transferring here from [Cy Ranch], he was very encouraging and showed me around. While showing me around, I was limping a bit due to my knee going somewhat out of place,” Underwood said. “I hoped that he did not see this because I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t get around very well and would not be a good as an AP. Funny thing, he began limping as well because he was having his own knee problems and was awaiting surgery. Neither one of us mentioned our limping and, to this day, I still don’t know if he noticed mine and just did not say anything. I know I never mentioned his,” Underwood added.

Funk has a humorous side but when tragedy struck he comforted his students with compassion.

“My freshman year of high school was a memorable one. I remember practicing my Tae Bo in Coach Childress’ second period Foundation of Personal Fitness Class. In the middle of class, the principal got on the intercom and told all the teachers to get their classes quiet because he was going to come back on for another announcement. I did not think anything weird was happening because I just thought ‘this must be something they do in high school,’” JVHS graduate and teacher Regina Jennings said. “That day was September 11, 2001. This is my first real memory of Mr. Funk and ever since then I have had a special connection with him. When I came back as a teacher, and he was still here, he made the transition so much easier. He has always been encouraging and inspiring. I really believe he has shaped me into the strong woman I am today,” Jennings added.

The compassion Funk shows during tough times reflected his leadership and relationship with his staff.

“From the time I met Mr. Funk, I was inspired by his compassion. He is not afraid to show emotion or empathize with his staff members or students. I have more than just one memory of him. I have many where he led us with dignity and care. He is a leader to be missed,” Holly Charles, English teacher, said.

Funk is being praised for his dedication to the teachers of the school. During his tenure at the school, he made sure the best teachers were hired, so the students could get the best education possible.

“I can say that Mr. Funk has always been loyal to graduates of the high school. He knows that this school pumps out quality teachers. There are many ex-Falcons that are now Falcon teachers. I believe this is attributed to the quality education that students get here,” Aaron Van Wey, 2000 graduate and history teacher, said.

Funk is remembered as a leader who made connections and built relationships with the school’s teachers. Algebra teacher, Whitney McCoy remembers the lunches that he would have with teachers every day, so he could get to know them and they could get to know him.

“I remember it being an amazing mini-Christmas dinner and sitting around his office and eating, while some of my coworkers turned into friends. The whole time he wanted to talk about us, and our personal ups and downs, just making sure that we as teachers weren’t going insane and felt under-appreciated. He has always made me feel so welcome and let me know how much he saw me growing as a teacher. I will forever be thankful that he is who helped me start my teaching career,” McCoy said.

The journalism department is also thankful that it has always received the respect of Funk in his review of issues covered by the student newspaper. Due to his handling of the student press program, the adviser, Margie Comstock, nominated him for an award. In her nomination she explained why he should have been recognized by her professional organization.

The nomination letter in part stated: “Before the administrator, came the teacher, the master educator, always focused on the lasting outcome of the lesson at hand. To be effective, an educator of this manner formulates from the outset what good will be derived and patiently waits for the student to come to an understanding. The understanding may not come in the classroom, but that master teacher knows that he has planted the seed and time will grow the lesson. Ralph Funk, principal at Jersey Village High School, brought the experience of that directing educator with him to his administrative desk and used his skills of guiding and educating as he allowed the newspaper students of Jersey Village High School to explore and grasp a firm understanding of what a free press entailed with its principles, ethics and responsibilities.”

Being here for almost two decades, Funk will leave a large impact and legacy, that will be remembered by teachers and graduates for many years to come. Funk believes that only history will be able give him a good legacy.

“That’s probably to be determined. I care about the school and tried to do everything we could to make it a better place for the students,” Funk said.