The school board is excited to announce that it has offered the position as our next superintendent to Dr. Michael Leichliter, current Superintendent of the Penn Manor School District in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mike, or Dr. Mike as his current faculty calls him, has accepted the position; we are in the process of finalizing details of his contract. The Board officially appointed Mike to the position as our next superintendent, starting July 1, 2022, at the Board’s meeting February 9.
|Interested in seeing our community interview with Mike from January 31? Here’s a link to the 20-minute conversation with HUUSD Principal Chris Neville, teacher Tom Young, Board member Kristen Rodgers and Harwood junior Arianna Block. You might also be interested to read the summary of responses from our community survey.|
The Board is really excited about this choice. Mike was a clear favorite among Board members as well as among the 120 staff, parents and community members who responded in our survey. His previous experience as superintendent, as well as his community- and service-oriented approach, are an excellent fit for where our district is at this time.
Mike is deeply community-minded – from consideration and recognition of individual school communities to the larger residential communities in which those schools operate. At the school level, that focus has meant, in part, making sure all students and all teachers feel valued and seen, something that feels more important than ever in this time of COVID isolation. At the community level, this has included participation in civic organizations, strong relationships with local media, and attending school and community events. By working at these multiple levels, Mike’s district was able to make significant changes in their school system that benefited the quality of students’ education as well as the life of their community.
Mike’s educational focus as superintendent has been on the continual improvement of academic programming at all levels in their schools. Penn Manor saw incredible growth in their academic achievement under Mike’s leadership. He also facilitated several school facility projects, including the renovation of four schools, construction of a new elementary school, and the reconstruction of the high school.
Mike has served as Superintendent of the Penn Manor School District for the last 13 years. He has also served as principal in the school district and taught social studies in the York City School District during his 31-year career in southcentral Pennsylvania. The Penn Manor community of about 45,000 residents, much of it rural, has an award winning student AgScience program. Penn Manor’s K-12 district has 5400 students – about 3 times as many as the HUUSD.
Mike was drawn to Vermont because of his daughter Sydney’s attendance at UVM, where she is a senior. While he had visited Vermont many times, frequent visits while his daughter has been at UVM made it clear to him that this was a place where he and his partner, Mary Edith, could happily make a new home and build a new community. They also have two other adult children: Noah of Arlington, Virginia and Maura of New York, New York. Mike and Mary Edith will be relocating to the district this summer.
The selection of our new superintendent comes after a multi-step process that began last spring with the hiring of a consultant to help the Board design and run the search process. In November, a series of community meetings helped the Board articulate key qualifications it would be looking for in its next superintendent, around areas such as communications, educational leadership, and equity. In January, a preliminary search committee that included Board members, Union leadership and one of our veteran principals winnowed down the applications to three finalists for the Board to consider. All three candidates visited the district this week to visit our schools and conduct additional interviews with community members and the Board. Hundreds of community members watched the community interviews and many offered feedback for the Board to consider as it made its decision.
In a recent email exchange with Mike, he shared: “I am honored that the school board has invited me to be their next superintendent. As I learned more about the students, teachers and education offered in this school district, it became evident to me that Harwood is the place that I wish to live and invest my energy. I cannot wait to be a part of this amazing community.”