Joe VanBernum Named 2015 
John Batley Award Recipient

April 22, 2015 - One of the traditional highlights of the PAISBOA Annual Meeting is the presentation of the John Batley Award, our highest honor. A former CFO of Westtown School, recipient of the Visionary Award, and the man for whom the John Batley Award was created, John’s legacy is one of selfless giving and inclusion in PAISBOA. We celebrate his character, competence, and consistency each year with the selection of the John Batley Award winner.

For 2015, the John Batley Award was presented to
Joe VanBernum of Overbrook School for the Blind

Joe VanBernum’s quiet influence pervades the campus of the Overbrook School for the Blind, or OSB as it is known. When one walks onto the OSB campus, you are struck by the beautiful Spanish Renaissance architecture with its carefully tended lawns and gardens. The recent renovations to the 180-year-old main building, which include refurnishing the delicate cupola and re-creating the grand entrance, have been carefully overseen by Joe, the Business Officer there since 1988. Even the newer buildings, which have been seamlessly interwoven with the traditional tile and thematic period design, reflect Joe’s influence, particularly in the LEED-platinum aquatics center.

Papa Joe cares for the campus as if it was his home and the staff and students were his family. He is their champion, pioneering wellness and nutrition well before it came into vogue. The weekly Farmer’s Market that he implemented is well established in the Overbrook community, and he has promoted fitness programs for years by taking advantage of the campus’ “chip and putt” golf course, bowling alley, aquatics center and indoor track. Joe leads by example as he volunteered to chair PAISBOA’s first Wellness Committee and bring OSB’s early initiatives to the entire membership.

At home in Riverton, New Jersey, Joe leads an active lifestyle. On his bike at dawn, he often rides on the Delaware River trails before his commute to OSB. Or he is out walking with his wife, Helene, in the evening in their quiet neighborhood. An avid gardener and golfer, Joe looks forward to Spring when he brings his gardens back to life and he can also get onto the links for 18 holes. He is a public servant, sitting on the Riverton Elementary School Board for nine years, bringing his knowledge and expertise to the local level. With their two sons, Joey and Patrick, the family has taken many extended vacations – the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Sedona, Arizona among their favorite destinations.

Joe has served on the PAISBOA board for many years and has been a quiet but influential leader. As is his nature, he is fully committed to promoting the association and all its endeavors and is a willing cheerleader. Under Joe’s leadership, the Wellness Committee successfully took on the challenge of bringing wellness initiatives to all schools in the consortium and was influential in bringing on board a full-time wellness coordinator to oversee its efforts. He is considered the consummate Business Officer, who is totally dedicated to the details of his school while being generous with his time to guide others.

On behalf of OSB Executive Director Gerald Kitzhoffer, administrators and staff, his family, friends and all PAISBOA members – Congratulations Joe, on a job well done – and an award well deserved!


Read More About John Batley