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Dr. Leichliter announcement to the community: Post-Penn Manor plan

Dr. Mike Leichliter shared the following announcement and news with the Penn Manor School District community on Saturday, February 5, 2022.

Good morning,

On Wednesday, February 9th my candidacy for the Superintendency of Harwood Unified Union School District in central Vermont will be acted upon by their School Board. I will conclude my time at Penn Manor on June 30th and will start my new position on July 1st.

The school district has 1800 students across six towns (Waterbury, Duxbury, Moretown, Waitsfield, Fayston, and Warren). You are probably familiar with some of the well-known businesses located in this school district including Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Cheese Cooperative, Darn Tough Socks, Green Mountain Coffee/Keurig, and Sugarbush Ski Resort. The schools and community are simply wonderful.

The last twenty-five years of my life in Penn Manor School District have been truly amazing. Many of you have helped me grow from a young and novice high school assistant principal into the most senior superintendent in Lancaster County. Additionally, many of you taught my children and helped our family along the way as we worked together in an incredibly supportive community.

My decision to leave was both personal and professional but can be summed up as an overall feeling that I have concluded my chapter in Penn Manor. When you look at many of the projects I am currently engaged in, it felt like this timing was a logical conclusion for my superintendency. I firmly believe that Penn Manor will now be best served by a new superintendent who is able to look at the needs of the school district with fresh eyes.

I have been blessed with outstanding School Boards over my 13 years including the current nine men and women who quite simply love the school district and want what is best for its future. I have full confidence that our current School Board will continue in the tradition of making sure Penn Manor is a great place for students to learn and teachers to educate our children. I know they are working hard to select an outstanding new superintendent for Penn Manor and I look forward to working with the individual for a smooth transition!

For the past six months I have been thinking about different types of job opportunities that interest me as I fully intend to continue working full-time for many years to come. As I was considering my next steps, the bar was set very high and I only found one other place that meets those expectations for me where I feel I can both learn and help lead. With three children who are all over the east coast, the thought of a new adventure has been a continual dream between Mary Edith and me for about five years now. During the past four years we have frequently travelled to Vermont and fell in love with the people and places there. We quickly determined that this is where we want to begin a new chapter. I learned of the opening at Harwood in late September and as I continued to research the people and opportunities in Harwood Unified Union School District, it became clear to me that they value students, teachers, and community in ways similar to Penn Manor.

In the coming weeks I will share a little more with all of you about my journey and decision-making process. Leaving Penn Manor and Lancaster is hard. Mary Edith and I will miss all of you and this area but we know we will continue to be in touch and would love to have people visit us in our new home in the Harwood community. Rest assured though, the people of Penn Manor will always be a part of me.

I am looking forward to the next five months with all of you.


Announcement from Torrey Smith, board chair of the Harwood Unified Union School District – February 5, 2022.

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 anticipates officially appointing Mike to the position as our next superintendent, starting July 1, 2022, at the Board’s meeting on Wednesday, February 9.

We are 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.”

Interested in learning more about Mike Leichliter? His community interview is still posted on the district’s website and we will post additional information about him soon there in the coming weeks as well. Thank you to so many community members – staff, students and parents – who have supported this process. We are deeply grateful for the collaborative work our district has done to help us take this exciting next step.