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June 14, 2011 > Dr. Klopping retires as Superintendent of School for the Deaf

Dr. Klopping retires as Superintendent of School for the Deaf

By Richard Medugno, Photo courtesy of CSD

The California School for the Deaf (CSD) moved to Fremont from Berkeley in 1980. Five years before, Dr. Henry "Hank" Klopping became the school's superintendent. As the school year ends, Dr. Klopping retires after serving 36 years as head of what is widely recognized as one of the best, if not the best, deaf school in the world.

Klopping was born in the Midwest, but raised in Arizona. He grew up in a large family - the seventh of ten kids. Both of his parents were deaf. Hank met his wife of 41 years, Bunny, when both were employed at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson.

Following post-graduate education at the University of Arizona and Cal State Northridge, Klopping worked as Assistant Dean of Students at Gallaudet University (the only liberal arts university in the world for Deaf students) in Washington, D.C. Then, according to Bunny, "In 1975 Hank was asked to interview for the superintendent position of California School for the Deaf in Berkeley. There were 32 applicants, and we were shocked when he was offered the job. He was the youngest superintendent at that time."

During the next 36 years, Klopping oversaw the relocation of CSD to Fremont, increased the number of Deaf employees at the school substantially, and led the institution to its current respected status as a prototype for other deaf schools worldwide.

Dr. Klopping's retirement is a momentous change for the man as well as the institution that last year celebrated 150 years of existence. In an open letter to the Deaf community, published in the school's newspaper Cal News March 25, he wrote that he is ready to take a different path and "graduate with the class of 2011."

Klopping continued, "The decision to bid farewell to CSD has been among the most difficult decisions in my life. I love this school. I love the fantastic students; the outstanding staff; the dedicated, involved parents; and the wonderful Deaf community that surrounds this castle on the hill. The partnership between these groups of individuals has helped to make the school strong."

In closing, Klopping stated, "I intend to stay active and to find work somewhere in the larger Deaf community. I wish each of you the best of everything in the days, months, and years to come."

There are three finalists to replace Klopping. Everyone agrees that no matter which candidate gets the job, that person will have a difficult time filling Hank's shoes. Not surprisingly, the recent issue of Cal News was dedicated to Klopping's retirement. An electronic copy of the newsletter can be found on the school's website at www.csdf.k12.ca.us. The publication is filled with testimonials, histories, photos, and letters of praise and appreciation from colleagues, students, alumni, and staff (past and present) to the man.

A few examples of the many tributes follow:

"He has been a stellar site superintendent, and his love for CSD and the school community are immeasurable." - Dr. William Ellerbee, Deputy Superintendent State Special Schools

"Dr. Klopping worked tirelessly to change perceptions about deafness in the larger community. Also, he recruited and mentored so many capable Deaf professionals, and sought out and encouraged national and international contact and collaboration." -Joann Coakley, CSD Faculty 1968-2011

"My four children-all CSD students-continually thank me for making the sacrifice to move to California on their behalf. Honestly, I envy the education they've received here at the school. Dr. K has made CSD the best school for my children and the best work place for me and my wife Kat. Thank you, Dr. K and wife Bunny. Enjoy your journey after CSD!" - Charles Farr, Principal Career/Technical Education


Author's Note:
Personally, I have known Dr. Klopping over 15 years. We met when I moved my family to Fremont so my daughter Miranda could attend CSD's kindergarten. He was very welcoming; I have always been impressed with Hank Klopping's dedication to the school, his commitment to the students and Deaf community, and his support of parents like me. I join the many others in wishing him a happy retirement. It's well earned.

Editor's Note:
Richard Medugno is the author of Deaf Daughter, Hearing Father

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