Scott Van Vooren, the new assistant principal at Solanco High School, said his philosophy regarding discipline is that he's "firm, fair and fun."Those qualities appear evident as the Solanco newcomer gets ready to greet the freshman and junior students that he'll be responsible for when the school year starts on Monday, Aug. 25.

As assistant principal, the 36-year-old East Fallowfield resident will be in charge of disciplining ninth and eleventh grade students. He will also help with freshman orientation in August.

Van Vooren, who graduated from Kutztown University in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in secondary social studies, has been teaching for 12 years. He has spent the past nine years as an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Northley Middle School in the Penn-Delco School District where he was also head football coach for four years.

Van Vooren also attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte but left after finding out that his teaching certification would not transfer to Pennsylvania. It was there that he met his future wife Catherine, a native of Downingtown who was teaching science at a middle school he was teaching at in North Carolina.

"I tell people I had to travel 600 miles to find my wife," he joked.

The Doylestown native moved back to the area in 1999 and after passing the bar exam in 1995-96, began working as a paralegal assistant at a law firm in Doylestown. In 1996 he did some substitute teaching.

His "diverse background" includes teaching at a school in North Carolina where 84 percent of the students were in the free and reduced school lunch program, an alternative school, which "opened his eyes to students who didn't get a fair start in life" and then Northley, which had what he called "unique challenges."

Although he "loved" teaching at Northley Middle School, Van Vooren said he always saw himself in a leadership role and decided to become an administrator. He attended Neumann College in Aston and earned a master's degree in educational leadership and received his Intensive Administration Certification from Immaculata College.

After learning that Solanco was looking for an assistant principal, Van Vooren said he applied and after that, "everything happened really fast."

"The next thing you know they were offering me a job," he said.

One of the girls in his wedding party, Jennifer Ray, graduated from Solanco and was inducted into Solanco's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 or 2004, he said.

Van Vooren said he has been scanning the Solanco yearbook to learn the names of the faculty and staff and walking the halls of the high school getting to know where everything is.

"I'm trying to become more informed and ready for the school year," he said.

He said he plans to be "out and visible" to students during the school year and says they'll find him "very approachable."

So far, he said, he has discovered that the "community has a wonderful sense of ownership in the (high school) building."

Van Vooren also has a culturally diverse background. He and his wife, who is one of the assistant principals at Coatesville High School, have a 4-year-old son, Alex, whom they adopted from Russia.

He and his wife are presently in the process of adopting a child from Poland and are asking for a girl.

Half of Van Vooren's family lives in Amsterdam, where his mother was born. She only became a citizen of the United States in June 2007.

He used to visit his family in Amsterdam every few years, has lived in Russia and been to Germany. He would like to go to Italy with his wife, who is Italian, for their 10-year anniversary, as well as back to Russia.

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