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Former Hoops Star Still "Cleaning the Glass" at Sunrise School

Eddie Klingensmith is somebody that the students at Sunrise School can look up to, for more reasons than one. Eddie Klingensmith

To begin with, Mr. Klingensmith is a former AIU student.  He graduated from the former Eastern Area School, which the AIU operated up until the 1970's when it was consolidated with other programs to create Sunrise School.  Today, Mr. Klingensmith is a seasoned veteran of the AIU’s Sunrise School staff with 43 years of exemplary service to students and families.  

If that wasn’t enough reason for students to look up to Klingensmith, here’s another: He also stands at 6-foot-10.

“Big Ed” as he is known around the halls of Sunrise, is a former championship basketball player who led Eastern to three consecutive league titles while he was a student.   Wearing jersey number 44, he was a stand-out center who towered above his teammates and competitors.  After graduating in 1974, he accepted a full-time position on the custodial crew in the Special Education Division and now, at age 63, he is just two years away from retirement.   

It’s fitting that the big man who could rebound -- also known as “cleaning the glass” -- is still doing just that.

With 43 years of service, Klingensmith has the most seniority of anyone on the custodial staff. In fact, his co-workers like to pull his leg and tell him to retire so that somebody else can climb to the top of the ladder. But Klingensmith likes it just fine at Sunrise, where he plans to be until the sun sets on his career.

That’s great news for Sunrise School and principal Lucy McDonough who is thrilled to have him.

“He’s been a great employee to work with and is wonderful with our students,” said Ms. McDonough, who has been with the school for a decade.

Born in Chalfant Borough, Klingensmith still remembers the teachers and staff at Eastern who helped him get on the right track.  He originally attended the school to receive special education services and assistance with a congenital hearing impairment.  Upon graduating, Klingensmith built himself a great life and spends plenty of time with his family.  He gives credit to the educators who helped him secure a job and build his independence. 

“Big Ed” still resides in Chalfont, with his wife, Patty, and their chocolate labrador.  They have four grown children and a 13-year old grandaughter.  He’s proud that after years of hard work, he recently became a homeowner.

“I’m so happy I’m not paying rent,” he said.

While Eastern Area may have closed, its graduates, like Klingensmith, fondly remembers the school and the days on the basketball court with friends.  In addition, he remembers how his teachers were always encouraging and helped him build the confidence to become the person he is today. 

“I’m really lucky,” said Eddie.

- Story and photo by Eddie Phillipps