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Education Department Recognizes 73 Administrators for Completing the Inaugural, First-of-Its-Kind Superintendent’s Academy

Harrisburg, PA - Today, Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera applauded the 73 superintendents and charter school directors from across the commonwealth who completed the inaugural Pennsylvania Superintendent’s Academy.

“While we work to drive additional resources and promote broad educational initiatives at the state level, nothing can replace strong leadership in our commonwealth’s districts and classrooms,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “The administrators completing their term in Pennsylvania Superintendent’s Academy will take the valuable lessons and insight they gained back to their districts to implement the innovative and collaborative programs that will help our students grow and graduate college, career, and community ready.”

The 73 administrators, who lead districts and charter schools across the state, were the first cohort to complete the two-year, first-of-its-kind program, which was comprised of intensive research into the effective policies and practices of the world’s best education systems and aims to help participants transform their own districts based on the insights they gained through research and collaboration.

“Having a highly engaging and interactive professional learning environment for our district leaders, that is continuously informed by them and immediately driving best practice in their district and community is an incredibly powerful lever for improving student achievement across the commonwealth,” said Secretary Rivera. “These educators have demonstrated a powerful commitment to growing as educational leaders and to improving their local districts.”

The Superintendent’s Academy, which was launched in May 2016, is part of Rivera’s Poverty and Student Achievement Initiative.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the National Institute of School Leadership (NISL) partnered to create the innovative learning opportunity, that provided district leaders a chance to engage in collaborative, research-based, executive-level professional development.

During the Academy’s gathering this week, members of the initial cohort presented their “action learning projects,” in which the administrators used lessons from the Academy coursework and applied them to the real-world challenges faced in their home districts.

Several leaders collaborated across districts to address prominent issues across the state’s education landscape, including a project highlighting an innovative partnership between local school districts and Kutztown University to dramatically improve teacher preparation so that new teachers are ready on day one to deliver high-quality instruction; and another promoting a strategic partnership among local businesses, higher education institutions and community leaders to create effective career pathway programs with a special emphasis on at-risk students.

To build on the success of the inaugural class, a second cohort of 60 district and charter school leaders are currently enrolled in the Superintendent’s Academy. While Pennsylvania was the first to introduce the groundbreaking, executive level Superintendent’s Academy, other states have begun to offer similar programs including Kentucky and Mississippi.

A list of the administrators and their districts or schools follow:


Tammy Adams, South Side Area

Lora Adams-King, Farrell Area

Diana Barnes, Northern Tioga

Christopher Bigger, Littlestown Area

Jane Bovalino, Rochester Area

Melissa Brewer, Antietam

Eric Briggs, Canton Area

Jay Burkhart, Southwestern

Michael Calla, Sharon City

Jason Conway, Westmoreland Intermediate Unit #7

Brian Costello, Wilkes Barre

James Crisfield, Wissahickon

Patricia Cross, Sullivan County

Cosmas Curry, Stroudsburg

Wesley Doll, Upper Adams SD

Pam Dye, Franklin Area

Alan Fegley, Phoenixville Area

Brenda Freeman, Wellsboro

Melanie Gehrens, Bristol Township

Andrea Gonzalez-Kirwin, ASPIRA Schools of Phila

Randall Grove, Conrad Weiser

Nicholas Guarente, Greenwood

Joseph Guarino, New Brighton Area

Alan Hack, Warrior Run

Anthony Hamlet, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Cathy Harlow, Tyrone

James Harris, Daniel Boone

Michele Hartzell, Oswayo Valley

Kelly Hastings, Keystone Central

Nancy Hines, Penn Hills

Ginny Hunt, Clairton City

Matthew Hutcheson, Jeannette City

Cynthia Jenkins, Millville

Alexis Kirijan, Scranton

Sybil Knight-Burney, Harrisburg

John Kopicki, Central Bucks

Mike Mahon, Abington Heights

Amy Martell, Towanda Area

Scott Martin, Bentworth

Alexis McGloin, Upper Perkiomen

Ryan Neuhard, Newport

Donna Nugent, Big Beaver Falls Area

Bridget O'Connell, Palisades

Christine Oldham, Ligonier Valley

Michele Orner, Halifax Area

Gary Peiffer, Carlynton

Robert Pleis, Twin Valley

Katharine Pude, Bradford Area

Damaris Rau, School District of Lancaster

David Reeder Berlin, Brothersvalley

John Sarandrea, New Castle Area

Janet Sardon, Yough

Timothy Scott, Kiski Area

Thomas Shaffer, Bristol Borough

Regina Speaker Palubinsky, Great Valley

Craig Stage, Athens Area

Amy Stewart, Warren County

Terry Struble, Clearfield Area

Lori Suski, Middletown Area

G. Brian Toth, St. Marys Area

Julie Vicente, Eastern Lebanon County

Tracy Vitale, Seneca Valley

Brian Waite, Shenandoah Valley

Cheryl Walters, Derry Area

Thomas Washington, Central Crawford

Travis Waters, Steelton-Highspire

Edward Wehrer, Steel Valley

Deborah Wheeler, Upper Dublin

Fred Withum, Cumberland Valley

Keith Yarger, Juniata County

Edward Zelich, Charleroi

Kim Zippie, Commodore Perry

David Zuilkoski, Conestoga Valley


For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman - 717-783-9802

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