Baron Degner was a longstanding and much beloved administrator whose commitment and devotion to community service began when he was a boy in Brooklyn and continued throughout his entire life. Baron served as an Eagle Scout, as chapter president of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Epsilon at Temple University, as the national scoutmaster, a physical therapist for young polio victims, and an Army tank driver in Germany.
After beginning his teaching career in Port Washington, he came to Patchogue-Medford in 1970. In 21 years, mostly as assistant principal at PMHS, he influenced the lives of thousands of students, who continue to laud Mr. Degner with lavish praise to this day. Here is a sampling of some former students’ sentiments: “I would not have made it through high school without him. Every time I’m faced with a difficult student or situation (I think), ‘What would Degner do?” “You changed my life forever when you told me that my education was mine!” “You treated me with respect and encouraged me to be who I am. You did give me detention (I deserved it) but I left feeling better.” “Mr. Degner is a hero. Many of us didn’t have a father and we looked up to Mr. D as a dad.” “You believed in us when we did not believe in ourselves.” “You were never just an assistant principal to us, but so much more and one of the following: father figure, leader, icon, role model, beacon, pillar.” “You are the epitome of class: your character and integrity served as a template for the aspirations of so many for how we should lead our lives.”