Newark Police Chief David Christler is this year’s recipient of the Newark Central School District “Friend of Education” award.
Presented by Newark School Superintendent Henry Hann at the opening assembly of the annual Superintendent’s Conference Day September 1, district staff gave Christler a heartfelt and rousing standing ovation as he received the award given annually to someone who goes the extra mile to support Newark education.
Hann said Christler embodies the spirit of the award. He said award recipients are consistently those who give “over and above of their time and talent in a variety of ways” in support of the school district and students.
“Our school district and community are truly blessed to have David working with and for us. And so it is with great esteem and gratitude that we present this year’s Friend of Education award to our dear and valued friend and colleague, David Christler.”
Christler thanked everyone and said he was “truly surprised.” And then he turned the attention away from himself and commended teachers for the vitally important work they do with students.
Expressing appreciation for how much Christler has done for the schools since he has been Chief of Police, Hann noted as a most recent example that Christler not only was an ardent supporter of the Kelley School fifth grader’s trip to Ellis Island, but volunteered to be a chaperone on the trip.
Later in the day, Kelley School Principal Chris Mizro commended Christler for helping to make the grades 3-5 school, where there is very limited parking in and around the building, much more accessible for parents and volunteers and much safer for students.
Mizro said Christler arranged to have more visitor and handicapped parking in front of the school and devised a plan to use side streets to make dismissal time at the school far less congested for buses and parents in vehicles.
“He has made what was a difficult situation here far more workable and has made our school much more accessible for parents and volunteers and much safer for students,’’ she said.
Mizro also noted that when Christler is called upon in his official capacity to speak to students, his gentle and respectful manner in dealing with them results in more respectful, responsible behavior by these students.
She also noted how the police chief participates in a Newark Public Library lunch time book club program at Kelley School in which he frequently reads to students.
“Chief Christler cares so much,’’ Mizro raved. “He truly is a real asset to our schools and community. We’re so glad he’s here.’’
“I just really enjoy people and think working with them is so much fun,’’ Christler said later.
Chief of the Newark Police Department since 2008, Christler retired in 2005 as the Deputy Superintendent of the New York State Police after a 32-year distinguished career in which he rose to the third highest position in the State Police.
Interestingly, it was not always Christler’s intent to pursue a career in law enforcement.
A Newark native, he attended first through eighth grades at St. Michael’s School and then attended Newark High School. After graduating, he attended RIT, participating in an “Earn While You Learn” program. Taking courses at RIT half of each day, he spent the other half becoming a trained machinist at General Dynamics in Rochester.
In college during the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the Army where he spent three years including a tour of duty in Vietnam and being in the Pathfinder program when he returned to Fort Benning.
Christler said he found he enjoyed the military style of life so much, he enrolled in the then Police Science program at Monroe Community College after he was discharged from the Army. He had planned to continue his education after MCC at SUNY Brockport, but received an appointment to the State Police Academy.
“I think I made the right decision,’’ he said later in the day September 1. “I’ve had a wonderful life and an exciting career. I so enjoy working with people.”
Christler attributes a lot of the success of his career to his wife, Diane, to whom he has been married for 35 years.
“Diane really raised our girls the last 10 years I was working for the State Police and was on the road so much of the time,’’ he said.
The couple has two daughters. Amy is an attorney who works for a Federal Administrative Judge with the Social Security Administration in St. Louis, Missouri.
Their other daughter, Lauren, is a student at SUNY ESF in Syracuse and is studying to become a landscape architect.