The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

Best of SNO Stats
0
Published
Stories
0
Participating
Schools
0
Published
Schools
Publication Tips
We'll be the first to admit that getting your story published on Best of SNO is hard. We receive over 100 submissions per day, and only about 15 percent are selected for publication.

There are multiple factors that come into play when deciding if a story is Best of SNO-worthy. From engaging writing and unique angles to well thought out multimedia elements, more considerations are made than it might look.

If you're having a hard time achieving that Best of SNO distinction, check out our past newsletters to get a better idea of the type of content we're looking for.
March 21, 2024
January 26, 2024
November 16, 2023
March 1, 2023
January 10, 2023
November 1, 2022

Cummins McNitt: A Career of Dedication, Service, and Compassion

McNitt will retire at the end of the school year with 17 years of service to the Tyrone Area School District
TAHS+students+Mariyah+Hunter+and+Cami+Weyer+expressing+their+affection+and+appreciation+for+Mr.+McNitt+at+this+years+prom.+
Todd Cammarata
TAHS students Mariyah Hunter and Cami Weyer expressing their affection and appreciation for Mr. McNitt at this year’s prom.

Paperboy. Farmhand. Factory worker. College radio DJ. Dining hall director. Short order cook. Bouncer. College teaching assistant. Folklorist. Historian. Archivist. Museum Director. Scout Leader. Innkeeper. High school social studies teacher. Drivers’ education instructor.

These jobs were held at one time or another by beloved Tyrone High School teacher Cummins McNitt, and when the Class of 2024 graduates on May 31, McNitt will add another well-earned title to the list:

Retiree.

McNitt has been a member of the Tyrone faculty for 17 years, and his impact on his students, the school, and the community cannot be overstated.

Story continues below advertisement

I tell my students all the time that I am the richest man in the world because I have been afforded so many opportunities to have met, worked with, and befriended so many wonderful people.

— Cummins McNitt

“I tell my students all the time that I am the richest man in the world because I have been afforded so many opportunities to have met, worked with, and befriended so many wonderful people,” McNitt said.

The list of things that McNitt has accomplished in his short teaching career is nothing short of amazing.

In addition to teaching senior world geography and economics, McNitt has been Tyrone’s in-class and behind-the-wheel driver’s education teacher since 2010.

He has also been responsible for gifted education in the high school, served as a faculty representative for the Student Assistance Program support team, and is the chairman of the TAHS PBIS steering committee.

McNitt is the co-founder and co-advisor for the Youth Action Network (YAN) club that hosts the annual YAN Halloween Event, Pennies for Panzi fundraiser, and the YAN 4D movie event for elementary students each year.

He is the faculty coordinator for the annual Community Service Day that sends students out on spring cleaning projects around the Tyrone community each spring.

He also organizes Senior Safety Day every spring, bringing first responders, law enforcement, and the local legal community together to educate students on the dangers of driving while impaired.

This is all in addition to his dedication as a volunteer and leader in local scouting, his church, and the community.

McNitt is always one of the first teachers through the door in the morning. He can usually be found at his desk by 6-6:30 am each school day. On days that he teaches driver’s ed, he doesn’t leave until after well into the evening.

According to McNitt, it’s the students that have kept him going at such a fast pace for the past 17 years.

“I love when the students walk through my door and I have an opportunity to spend the next 42 minutes with them. They teach me as much as I teach them, and probably more so. They make me a better teacher and a better person. They force me to think, evaluate, reevaluate, and experiment on a daily basis,” McNitt said.

McNitt is well known for sharing stories from his life and many careers with his students.

Born in Shade Gap, Pennsylvania, he grew up in Mount Union and graduated from Mount Union Area High School.

“Mount Union was a great place to grow up because it was full of a lot of very nice people and a lot of diversity,” McNitt said.

As a youngster, McNitt imagined himself being everything from an archaeologist, a preacher, or a diplomat serving overseas. Ironically, the one career he didn’t see himself pursuing as a young man was teaching.

“My mother was also a teacher, but because of this I never thought I would become one. I saw the struggles she had and sometimes the heartbreak that can come with the job, and so I went in a different direction,” McNitt said.

After graduating from high school, McNitt pursued a degree in religion at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania, where he began to build his diverse resume of jobs and careers.

To help pay for college, he worked as a student supervisor in the campus dining hall.

“It required about 50 hours a week, on top of my classes,” McNitt said, “but I worked with some wonderful people.”

I worked in a multitude of different jobs over the past 40 years. While my path took me away from teaching, I noticed that there was often a common link in my different jobs – working with others, especially young people. When I started substitute teaching at Tyrone in 2005, I got hooked. Teaching got into my blood.

— Cummins McNitt

McNitt was also a DJ on the midnight to 6 a.m. shift at the Thiel College student radio station.

“One year I created a two-hour radio documentary on the religious aspects of Southern Appalachian mountain music,” McNitt remembers, “I was big into folk rock and folk music at the time.”

After college, McNitt asked some friends if he could live in the woods on their farm until he could save enough money to buy a car.

“The challenge was that it was in the snow belt and I lived there through the summer, fall, winter, and into the spring before I could make enough to buy a car,” McNitt said.

After college McNitt worked at an all-night diner as a cook and bouncer and did other odd jobs for a few years. He then decided it was time for a change and applied to join the Peace Corps.

However, the Peace Corps was under a hiring freeze, so McNitt decided to further his education instead. He was accepted to a graduate program in the Penn State University Department of History and received his MA in American history.

McNitt also got married and settled in Tyrone, his wife Peg’s hometown. Peg (Baldrige) McNitt is a Tyrone native and Tyrone High School Class of 1977 graduate.

McNitt went to work for the Boy Scouts of America as a senior district executive. He was involved with scouting for many years, which led to his current involvement with Camp Anderson.

McNitt also worked as a historian and fieldworker for a program called America’s Industrial Heritage Project. That job took him all across central Pennsylvania making audio recordings of early 20th-century industrial workers like coal miners and railroader workers.

One of the most interesting experiences of McNitt’s life was his job as the curator and director of the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, Pennsylvania. McNitt played a key role in the creation of the museum, which was considered cutting-edge at the time.

“We had folks from all over the world, including the Smithsonian pay us visits,” McNitt said, “we developed some incredible new ways to tell stories to the public.”

Eventually, as the funds dried up for many museums, including the Railroaders Museum, McNitt began looking for another new career to “reinvent himself.”

It was then that he began to consider the career that he had decided against when he first went to college many years ago.

”I worked in a multitude of different jobs over the past 40 years. While my path took me away from teaching, I noticed that there was often a common link in my different jobs – working with others, especially young people. When I started substitute teaching at Tyrone in 2005, I got hooked. Teaching got into my blood,” McNitt said.

I met Cummins a few years before he started teaching when he helped me develop an elective class to gather oral histories from local veterans. Right away I knew he would be a great teacher,” Cammarata said. “It’s been an honor to have him as a colleague and a friend.

— Todd Cammarata

He went to St. Francis University to earn his high school social studies teaching certification. In the fall of 2006, he did his student teaching with Tyrone High School social studies teacher Todd Cammarata.

“I met Cummins a few years before he started teaching when he helped me develop an elective class to gather oral histories from local veterans. Right away I knew he would be a great teacher,” Cammarata said. “It’s been an honor to have him as a colleague and a friend.”

Fortunately for McNitt and the Tyrone community, the timing was right and a position on the social studies faculty became available the next year. McNitt was a perfect fit.

It’s no secret that Mr. McNitt loves his job and his students. Students credit him for his positivity and dedication. Students can’t help but enjoy the stories about his amazing life that he tells in class.

“Mr. McNitt has not only had an educational influence on me but also such a strong personal influence. He constantly checks in on all of his students so that they feel seen, heard, and cared for. Mr. McNitt has such a huge heart, and his neverending support has meant the world to me. He truly uplifts our community in immeasurable ways, and anyone who knows him can agree on the absolute pleasure it brings to have him around,” Tyrone senior Bekah Sprankle said.

Even students who have not had him for a class know him well.

“I love how every day he will stand outside the door no matter what the weather conditions are and make sure to greet everyone with a smile and a good morning,” junior Olivia McMonigal said.

McNitt is a pillar of the Tyrone Area High School community and will be missed by the administration, faculty, staff, and students.

McNitt’s wife Peg retired from her career as the food service director for the Huntingdon Area School District a few years ago, and while McNitt said he is excited to join her in retirement. And while McNitt says he is looking forward to having more free time, that doesn’t mean he won’t still be active in the community.

“I plan on continuing my volunteer work with the many groups I’ve been working with all these years: my church, Camp Anderson, Scouts, and so forth. And of course, spending more time with my wife Peg and visiting our son Dudley and his wife Kathleen in Nashville,” McNitt said in an interview with the Daily Herald.

I plan on continuing my volunteer work with the many groups I’ve been working with all these years: my church, Camp Anderson, Scouts, and so forth. And of course, spending more time with my wife Peg and visiting our son Dudley and his wife Kathleen in Nashville.

— Cummins McNitt

This story was originally published on Tyrone Eagle Eye News on May 24, 2024.