School to offer lead job to Texan

David Birnbaum was approved to become the new principal of St. Paul Lutheran School Wednesday.

St. Paul Lutheran Church members gathered to vote and unanimously approved calling Birnbaum to offer him the position being vacated by Gene Sommerfeld. Sommerfeld retires at the end of the school year.

“Principal Gene Sommerfeld has served seven years, and served well, and he’s retiring. So we hope to reach out and get a new principal as of this meeting,” the Rev. Al Henderson, senior pastor, said.

Birnbaum has been principal and teacher for 12 years at St. Paul Lutheran Serbin in Giddings, Texas, a preschool-through-eighth grade school. Birnbaum has a master’s degree in administration from Concordia University, and resides in Lexington, Texas.

The school board’s recommendation was unanimously approved with 32 votes.

Henderson said it was a long process finding candidates for the position.

“We worked with our district office and they gave us a big list, and we worked it down to two,” he said. “And those two we had telephone interviews separate nights, lengthy interviews, professional and personal questions. And then the committee selected one over the other.”

The school board’s recommendation was presented to the church members present, each of whom had a vote.

“The principal is a very special position,” Henderson said to church members. “We look forward to receiving the new principal, even if that means saying yes to the retirement of Gene Sommerfeld, who has served us so well.”

According to Jim Finnegan, school board president, Birnbaum has served in similar schools.

“He interviewed really well,” Finnegan said. “He can move right away into the position.”

Henderson said he approves of the recommendation.

“It’s very good, very promising,” he said. “I truly enjoyed visiting with him on the phone. I think he’s got all the tools and character we would hope to find.”

Lamented, though, is the retirement of Sommerfeld.

“He could have stayed a lot longer, for my sake,” Henderson said. “I truly enjoy his presence, his level of service and ministry, all the experience he brought.”

Birnbaum, if he accepts the position, would begin in August, according to Henderson.

“He’ll have a number of weeks to consider the call,” Henderson said, “and then let us know whether he chooses to accept or not.”