Alumni Career Corner: Jim Krug ’98, Astronomy Teacher & Director of the Neil Armstrong Planetarium at Altoona Area High School

Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?

A: My teenage years as a Professional Ski Instructor at Blue Knob Ski Resort inspired me to pursue a career in education! I really enjoyed teaching lessons and found that I could see the instruction through my students' eyes. If I were in their shoes- or ski boots- what would I find challenging? What instruction would help me? I really enjoyed watching people who were donning skis for the very first time soon be able to skillfully navigate the mountain—especially young "Kinder Ski" students with whom I might interact for many days.”


Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: Due to years of hard work and success growing our popular Astronomy program at Altoona Area High School, I have been given a number of resources by our School District to allow me to take it to greater heights. I co-founded the Space Race Museum in our unused lobby space and saw our available square footage more than double due to a recent renovation. We now have display cases, framed newspapers and historical photographs, hands-on exhibits, and genuine NASA artifacts.


I also fundraised and founded the Mt. Lion Observatory at Fort Roberdeau, a local historic Revolutionary War site in nearby Sinking Valley, PA. This allows us to host public events throughout the year focused on genuine astronomy and telescopic observation of the beautiful night skies of the region.


Q: What advice do you have for students considering a career in education?

A: Education is dynamic and ever-changing. Many of the guarantees that brought people into the profession (pension, excellent healthcare, etc.) are no longer the sure things they once were. And yet, there is a greater demand for qualified educators than there has ever been before! Choosing a specialty

(secondary science, secondary math, special education) will allow you immediate, full-time employment opportunities at many school districts right here in Pennsylvania. There is more competition with degrees like elementary education or secondary English, but many new graduates head south to Virginia or Maryland to begin their careers, before gaining experience and eventually working back in our area. The sky's the limit!


More about Jim:

Jim grew up in Portage and has served as the Planetarium Director of the Neil Armstrong Planetarium at Altoona Area High School since the 2003-04 school year, replacing the late Regis Huschak, original Planetarium Director. There have only been two Planetarium Directors in the 40+ years since the Neil Armstrong Planetarium opened in 1972 (and both hailed from Portage)!


Jim strives to improve his Level 3 Academic Astronomy (year-long) and Level 2 Astronomy (semester) courses every year. He also advises the AAHS Astronomy Club, maintains the Space Race Museum, teaches evening Adult Courses in the winter, hosts Planetarium birthday parties and scouting groups, hosts public sky shows, and runs the Mt. Lion Observatory at Fort Roberdeau.

Many thanks to Jim for taking time from his busy schedule to give us some insight into his cool job!

Want to share your career experiences and advice? Email [email protected] for an alumni career questionnaire and we’ll feature you here!