Alumni Couple Increases Scholarship Gift Through Estate Bequest to Further Support First Generation students

They say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. For Robert “Bob” Bartoletti, Ed.D., ’70, and his wife JoAnn, it was a journey to 100 years of service in public education that began with their own steps of becoming first generation college students.

After impacting the lives of thousands of students throughout the country and across the globe since they started their teaching careers in the early 1970s, Bob and JoAnn are creating an even greater legacy as educators through their philanthropic support to their respective alma maters.

Bob’s march toward an exemplary career as a public school teacher turned administrator started when his football coach, Joe Moran at Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre, recommended he enroll at Bloomsburg after graduation.

“He knew I wanted to get into education, so he encouraged me to go to Bloomsburg,” says Bob. “They had a renowned education program, and I could continue playing football.”

Bob credits the great teachers and administrators he had at Bloomsburg for fueling his passion for teaching and inspiring him to pursue a career in education.

“I always wanted to become a teacher and loved teaching and coaching others ever since middle school,” Bob adds. “But I don’t know if I would have realized those dreams without the great teachers I had at Bloomsburg.”

He and his friends from the Class of 1969, Mike Smith, Ron Russo, and Frank Yartz, used to lovingly refer to Bloomsburg as the “Ivy League of State Colleges” as a testimony to the quality of their teachers, from Drs. John Serff, Hans Karl Gunther, and Robert Warren in the History Department to English professor Dr. Richard Savage, and even administrators Drs. John Hoch, dean of instruction, and Stuart Edwards, director of secondary education.

“They were all great role models and teachers,” says Bob. “And it is they, along with several others, to whom I attribute my love and dedication to education.”

Becoming a teacher was one thing, but Bob had bigger aspirations in education. His career began with his first job teaching high school social studies and coaching freshman football at Lawrence High School in Lawrence Township, N.J.

A job that he still cherishes most because of the opportunity to impact students, but more importantly, because that’s where he met the love of his life, JoAnn D’Angelo, also a social studies teacher at Lawrence.

“Here I was with one of the premier teaching jobs in New Jersey, and I met a woman with a love of English and history like me,” says Bob. “We hit it off and were married less than two years later.”

Bob emerged as a leader among his peers and became vice president of the teacher’s association and went on to get his master’s degree at Rutgers University. Then, when a position as Principal of Lawrence Township opened up, he interviewed with the Assistant Superintendent, Larry Ksanznak, a 1953 Bloomsburg graduate.

That move set Bob on the path to pursuing his second master’s degree at New York University and becoming a top administrator in New Jersey public schools as superintendent of Cranbury School District. He then completed his doctorate at Fordham University.

“Making the shift from teacher to administrator was a natural progression for me,” says Bob. “In my early days as a teacher, my principals encouraged me to become certified because they saw my passion for education, and I knew that as I attained those higher positions, I could ultimately make an even greater impact on the students, parents, and the communities we served.”

He was certainly right about that. In 1996-97 he led the Cranbury School District to become a National Blue Ribbon School and was being named one of the top 250 schools in the country. An accomplishment he still considers one of the highlights of his career, trailing behind meeting JoAnn.

He wrapped up his career as the Director of Support for the Teacher Education Program and Global Student Teaching office at the College of New Jersey. Within that role, he formed partnerships with international schools in Europe, Asia, and Africa. He was also responsible for partnerships with 20 regional New Jersey school districts.

The couple’s passion for reaching outside the classroom to make a more significant impact didn’t stop with Bob. JoAnn also became principal at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School and then executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. She finished her career in 2020 after serving 10 years as the National Association of Secondary School Principals CEO. An organization that represents 24,000 middle and secondary school principals and vice principals nationwide.

Bob and JoAnn both credit the trajectory of their success to their undergraduate degrees earned, respectively, at Bloomsburg and the College of New Jersey.

For Bob, it was the mentors he found and the friendships he made at Bloomsburg that remain strong to this day, including his two dearest friends, Mike Lynch ’69 and Ernie Vedral ’71, whom he introduced to two of his wife’s friends 52 years ago and are still married today, that helped forge his path.

“As a lover of history, I’m a big believer in the sentiment that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us,” says Bob. “I benefited from the teaching of my professors at Bloom, who prepared me for the success I have achieved.”

That’s why Bob and JoAnn established the Dr. Robert Bartoletti ’70 & JoAnn Bartoletti Scholarship in 2014, which is awarded each year to a first-generation student pursuing a career in education. They have also recently increased the scholarship endowment through a significant bequest in their estate.

“As a proud alum, I wanted to have my name always associated with Bloomsburg,” adds Bob. “Even though I went to major universities for graduate degrees, my foundation began here at the ‘Friendly College on the Hill.’ At Bloomsburg, what we can leave behind will have a greater impact on the students and the institution.”