LYNN — Robert Buontempo, the principal of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, is retiring after 31 years with the school.
Buontempo, 57, has been the school’s principal since March 2015. His retirement will be effective July 1.
He’s been at Lynn Tech since 1987. When he started at the school, he was an auto body instructor, teaching kids in the auto body shop and the related classroom. He said he taught the students auto theory.
Buontempo became a cluster department head in 2005, making him responsible for multiple technical areas. In 2010, he was appointed vice principal before being bumped to principal five years later.
“It’s been a very rewarding career here for me,” Buontempo said. “The kids have always been wonderful.”
Buontempo said he plans to travel with his wife, Dotty, and he’s expecting his first grandchild in May. Time goes by so quickly, he said, and it’s time for a change of pace. Also weighing into his decision, he said, was his long daily commute from New Hampshire.
Before starting his career at Lynn Tech, Buontempo said he worked in industry. He managed Classic Auto Body on Bennett Street for two years and before that, worked as an auto body technician in other places.
Buontempo is a graduate of Northeast Regional Vocational School. He said he loved the whole vocational experience and thought it would be fun to teach at a similar school. He was hired by Lynn Tech’s former principal, Al Malagrifa, in 1987.
Buontempo initially wanted to run his own business so he went to North Shore Community College and transferred to Bentley University, where he got his bachelor’s degree. He got his master’s degree from Cambridge College in school administration.
“I’ve always just loved connecting with the students and I’ve loved cars all my life,” Buontempo said. “I still do. That was always very rewarding to me to teach something that you love yourself. To share that knowledge has always been a wonderful experience for me.”
Buontempo said it’s been rewarding to see where he can effect change in the school’s technical programs to keep them evolving for the community and for the kids.
Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham said Buontempo has been a wonderful leader for Lynn Tech, which has seen a lot of upgrades under his leadership.
“He was a wonderful principal,” Latham said. “He’s a graduate of vocational (school) himself and then went onto college and has worked at Tech for so long. I hate to see him go. He did a great job. I’ll miss him greatly.”
Latham said Buontempo has worked to bring in a new information technology (IT) program and has done the legwork getting a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) program started. She said he has also worked to improve the school’s precision machining program.
Buontempo said the school recently received a $395,685 capital skills grant for the HVAC program, which has yet to start at the school. The funds will be used to purchased for new equipment and has to spent or earmarked for spending by June 30. He said the planning for that program started in Sept. 2015.
He said the IT and networking program just opened in September with capital skills money from the state, which was split between IT and the machine shop. The school received the $333,293 capital skills grant last year — about half, or $166,050 went to the IT program and $167,243 went to the advanced manufacturing portion.
In addition, Buontempo said the school has received a $75,000 grant to create a medical assisting laboratory. He said the school has a health tech program and the curriculum has been expanded to medical assistance training to students, including EKG and phlebotomy, which is aimed at giving kids more of an opportunity to learn and options after graduation.
“Graduating high school without a skill and without further education (means) you’re not going to go as far as you can,” Buontempo said. “Lynn Tech has options. Kids can come out of here and go into a great career in trade or they can go into school…A college education is good, but it doesn’t work for everyone and you need options.”
Latham said the search for the school’s next principal is underway. The job has been posted, which will be out for 30 days and then the interview process will begin.