Perhaps there's no greater gratification for educators than to see their careers come full circle.

Nearly three decades after he began his foray into the field of education, David Becker has returned to the place where it all began.

The scene is the Palmerton Area School District, and his current task is as interim principal at both the S.S. Palmer Elementary School and Parkside Education Center.

Becker replaced former principal Paul Rearden, who was hired as principal of the Peters Elementary School in the Northern Lehigh School District in August.

Becker previously taught in the school district as a reading, library and reading skills teacher for 20 years.

"I'm very happy to see what I see here, and to see some of the children of the students I taught back in the 1970s and 1980s," Becker said. "I'm pleased, because my last assignment here was as a reading specialist, and I'm happy to see how they use the new reading specialist, and an emphasis on the fundamentals of reading, writing, and math."

Becker, who retired in 2002, also served in administrative positions at a number of central Pennsylvania school districts.

"It's nice to get to retire, and yet walk around, and have the children see me," he said. "I enjoy that, and it's very pleasant to work with the staff, who have been very welcoming."

Becker said the experience has enabled him to rekindle old friendships, as well as forge new ones.

"I can come in here and keep things running," he said. "The office staff and teachers I have are people who've been here a long time, and that helps us keep things on an even keel."

However, Becker is only expected to serve as interim principal until around mid-January, at which time the district plans to have a permanent principal in place.

"My goal is to use my experience to keep the status quo going, and not change too many things so the person coming in will have a smooth transition," he said. "The new person will come in and put their stamp on the place, and will have new ideas ... a different perspective."

Becker, whose first stint in the district spanned from 1970-1990, left to accept a position as principal at the Panther Valley Middle School in the Panther Valley School District.

From there, he went to the Montgomery School District in Lycoming County, where he served as an assistant junior/senior high principal, high school principal and middle school principal.

Next, Becker went to Southern Columbia School District, Columbia County, in 1999, where he served as middle school principal.

In addition, he has also been principal in the Mifflenburg, Danville, and Bloomsburg school districts.

Regardless of where his travels have taken him, Becker acknowledged the level of comfort he's experienced since his return to the district.

"It's nice to see wonderful, smiling little children," he said. "It makes my day."