Joseph P. Batory is best known as the award-winning Superintendent of Schools in the socio-economically diverse Upper Darby School District located just west of Philadelphia. For 15 years (1984-1999), Joe presided over Delaware County’s largest school system of well over 12,000 students in 12 schools (including the largest high school in Pennsylvania). He was the CEO of more than 1000 employees and had oversight over an annual budget which grew to nearly $100 million.
President Bill Clinton recognized Joe’s exemplary career with these words: “Over the years, Joe exerted profoundly positive influence on very large numbers of young people in the Upper Darby community, giving them inspiration and a desire to achieve.” Joe’s tenure produced numerous awards and accomplishments for the Upper Darby School District. Six of the District’s 12 schools were cited with the prestigious National Blue Ribbon of Excellence from the United States Department of Education.
Joe prioritized music education system-wide and to this day, Upper Darby’s performing groups rival those of the very best school systems.
Upper Darby’s Teacher Center, created during Joe’s years as a superintendent, became the “cutting edge” model for professional development for teachers from numerous area school districts. In addition, the school system won awards from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its extensive program of business partnerships (90), its substance abuse prevention initiatives, its comprehensive program in the arts, and its parent involvement programs. A very successful program of corporate sponsorship of scholarships for needy students for college education was also put in place.
In terms of Joe’s leadership impact, it is worth noting that five different high level Upper Darby School District administrators who worked under Joe Batory’s supervision eventually went on to become school superintendents.
Joe is believed to be the only top level school administrator from the Greater Philadelphia area to ever have been honored with the prestigious Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators. His achievements as the school system leader in Upper Darby were also applauded by the White House, the US House of Representatives, and both legislative chambers of government in Pennsylvania.
In addition, the Executive Educator magazine and IBM systems honored Joe as one of the Top 100 school leaders among the 300,000 school superintendents in North America.
And Pennsylvania’s music educators have feted Joe as the top school leader in the State for his support of music education.
When he retired, one area newspaper termed him “a legend” and another called him a “champion for children.”
Joe was a very visible superintendent of schools, regularly visiting classrooms at all levels, and frequently “guest teaching.”
Beyond his basic CEO duties, Joe established the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation during his administration which still exists and has now raised more than $2.5 million entirely given to Upper Darby classroom teachers via 1200+ individual mini-grants for educational endeavors which could otherwise have not been afforded. He was honored as the “Father and Founder” of the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation in 2018.
More recently, Joe was the recipient of the 2019 “Inspire Award” from Philadelphia’s prestigious Musicopia organization which has a long history of rebuilding and reinvigorating music and artistic programs for schools in need. This honor, given to only one individual annually, recognized Joe’s massive impacts on advocating and providing music education for all students.
Never forgetting his roots of growing up poor in Philadelphia, Joe has also awarded personally-funded scholarship assistance to more that 30 academically worthy and needy Upper Darby High School graduates over the past three decades.
Joe has served as assistant chairperson for the Mendenhall-Tyson Scholarship for nearly 20 years. This is the Upper Darby School District’s most prominent scholarship fund which has net assets of more than $2 million and awards four scholarships annually to graduates of Upper Darby High School.
As for his “life influence,” Joe credits the Christian Brothers with motivating and inspiring his eventual career in educational leadership: “The Christian Brothers during my West Catholic High School years believed in me and supported me at a time when off the streets of Philadelphia I desperately needed positive mentoring. Ultimately, more Christian Brothers influence at La Salle College (not then a university) became the academic model for my egalitarian philosophy of education to believe in every young person no matter what his or her background or baggage. It is that Christian Brothers modus operandi that inspired and motivated me throughout my successful career and still imprints my educational beliefs today. I will always be grateful!”
Joseph Batory’s outstanding educational leadership career was also recognized with the 2014 Brother Edwin Anselm Award from Philadelphia’s West Catholic High School. Brother Edwin Anselm is the Christian Brother who as principal built Philadelphia’s West Catholic High into one of the premier Catholic high schools in the USA in the late 1920’s. Brother Anselm subsequently became the president of La Salle College (not then a university) during the depression years of the 1930’s and managed to somehow keep the school from potential foreclosure while increasing enrollment and expanding the campus. Brother Anselm is often referenced as “the man who saved La Salle.”
A Rotary member for 30 years, initially in Upper Darby and more recently in Philadelphia, Joe became the President of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia during its Centennial year. He has been involved with a wide variety of “hands on” projects to help the needy in Philadelphia. Joe initiated a multi-year Philadelphia Rotary project that distributed more than 30,000 dictionaries, atlases and thesauri at 25 city schools. Below, Joe is shown with just some of the “stuffed flounder” entrees he prepared for distribution by Manna, which provides meals for the sick and home bound.
Joe has received Rotary International’s highest award for “meritorious service” for his work with scholarships and other humanitarian endeavors. He was the key force in sending eight scholars from the Philadelphia area overseas with fully funded Rotary scholarships. Four of those scholars were winners of the prestigious Rotary International Peace Fellowships, including two police lieutenants (2011 and 2014) and two assistant district attorneys (2014 and 2018) from the City of Philadelphia. Additionally, Joe has been the host Rotary contact person and monitor for 23 visiting Rotary scholars from seven different countries who have studied here in Philadelphia.
In his early career, Joe spent six years as a public affairs officer at Philadelphia’s La Salle University. In that capacity, one of his duties was to generate the publicity for La Salle’s nationally powerful and successful basketball teams during the 1970’s.
Joe created the publicity campaign for La Salle’s Ken Durrett who was named as the best basketball player in America in 1971 and also Joe Bryant who attained All-American status in 1975. The New York Times called Joe’s La Salle basketball promotions in 1971 “the cleverest in America.” Joe also created a “Shakespearean aura” for then La Salle basketball coach Paul Westhead, who later coached the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA championship.
Additionally, Joe has served two terms on La Salle University’s Alumni Association Board. For several years, he was the chairperson of La Salle’s annual selections into its Hall of Athletes. And he was also a member of a committee that distributed more than $25,000.00 each year to La Salle students struggling with financial need.
In November of 2019, Joe (at far right below) was honored for his exemplary leadership and adherence to Lasallian values throughout his life and career by the La Salle University Alumni Association, representing 56,000 graduates living in 52 countries. Also shown are (L-R) La Salle President Colleen Hanycz; Honoree Ed Fierko; and, Honoree Tim Shriver.
And something few people know: That’s Joe (Below, 1st row at left) on the evening of his 2014 induction into the Upper Darby High School Football Hall of Fame. He is very proud of the role he played in building and restoring Upper Darby’s football prowess.
Joe began his work career at a teacher of English and Reading with the Camden (NJ) Public Schools (1964-70). He eventually advanced to respective posts as Language Arts department head and Head Start (pre-kindergarten) principal where he had responsibility for the initial education of 1000+ five year olds.
Joe holds his undergraduate degree from La Salle University and a master’s degree from Rowan University. He completed the doctoral program of courses in educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Since retiring in 1999, Joe has written three autobiographical books about school leadership which have sold worldwide. Joe has also authored more than 100 op-ed pieces on politics, education and history which have been published locally and nationally. _______________________________________________________________
What They’ve Said About Joseph Batory
“…a champion of education…” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“…a legend…” —The News of Delaware County (PA)
“…an aggressive advocate for children and a fighter for quality education for all…” —The American Association of School Administrators
“…he has had profoundly positive influence on very large numbers of students…” —President William Jefferson Clinton
“…his leadership has created a school system where innovative ideas flourished and opportunities for students were abundant…” —Citation, United States House of Representatives
“…one of North America’s best and brightest executives…” —The Executive Educator & IBM Educational Systems (Top 100 Award)
“…he has built an impressive track record of success for his school community…—Citation, the Senate of Pennsylvania
“…so many young people have benefited from his tireless devotion to duty…”—Citation, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
“…Joe is all about outstanding professionalism, expertise and wisdom…”—Pennsylvania School Boards Association
“…there is no stronger voice anywhere in support of egalitarian education…”—Upper Darby Education Association
“…he climbed a mountain and reached the top…” —Upper Darby School Board
“…courage, caring, credibility and integrity…an exemplary stewardship…”—Upper Darby Administrators & Supervisors Association
“…an inspiration to all teachers everywhere but God’s special gift to music educators …” —Pennsylvania Music Educators Association
“…a man of courage and integrity…” —Reverend Lawrence Williams, Drexel Hill (PA) Baptist Church
“…his faith is interwoven with his deep concern for the success of every child…”—Pastor David Shaheen, Christ Lutheran Church, Upper Darby, PA
Great Failures of the Extremely Successful
Question: So, what do Jane Goodall, Erin Brockovich, Steve Allen, Billy Idol, Pat Croce, Nanette Fabray, Betty White, Pat Boone, Ed Asner, Tony Curtis, Teddy Pendergrass, John Wooden, Al Franken, and Sam Donaldson have in common with Joseph Batory????
Answer: Each of them is a featured chapter in Steve Young’s award-winning book, Great Failures of the Extremely Successful (Tallfellow Press, Los Angeles, 2002).
This book documents the mistakes, the adversity, and failures which became steppingstones for each featured personality (their remarkable personal stories as recounted by Steve Young).
“It is awesome to see an account of my early years included in the book that includes so many remarkable accounts of the resilience of bigger than life people.” Said Batory, who retired after 15 years as the Upper Darby School District’s leader in 1999.
“When I look at the names of the people in this book, I can hardly believe that I merit a place among them. It is quite an honor.
“Steve Young has documented very well my challenges and obstacles in rising up from the streets of Philadelphia to a successful career as superintendent of schools in one of Pennsylvania’s largest and most diverse school systems.”
And as author Steve Young points out: “It weren’t always easy!!!”