Nominations sought for Outstanding Educators, Employees

Do you know of a Penn Manor teacher or staff member who goes above and beyond in performing his or her duties? If so, please consider submitting a nomination to the 2018-2019 Outstanding Educator/Employee Awards program.

The school district will present the awards later this year to two teachers and two staff members.  Nominations are being accepted until February 22, 2019, from parents/guardians, students and colleagues of Penn Manor staff members.

Last year’s honorees included Cindy Bachman, high school secretary, named Outstanding Employee for 2017-2018. The Outstanding Educators were Beth Mader, a Central Manor Elementary second-grade teacher, and Ken Webster, a Marticville Middle School social studies teacher.

The Outstanding Educator Awards should be based on a teacher’s ability to promote academic growth in his/her students and for outstanding pupil-teacher relationships.  A person may nominate one elementary teacher, one secondary teacher or one teacher on each level.  The nominee must currently be employed by Penn Manor School District.

Nominations for the Outstanding Employee Awards should be based on the staff member’s ability to support the educational program and the quality of his/her relationships with staff and students.  A person may nominate one elementary staff member, one secondary staff member or one employee on each level.  The nominee must currently be employed by Penn Manor.

Please click here to submit a nomination. Use one form for each nominee.

Below are an explanation of the awards, guidelines and a list of previous recipients.

Public input sought on hiring of new PMHS principal

Penn Manor is seeking input from the public as it embarks on a search for a new high school principal.

Your response to a short online survey will help the school district develop a leadership profile that will guide the selection of a new principal, who will take over from Phil Gale for the 2019-2020 school year.

Dr. Gale has accepted the position of assistant superintendent for secondary education at Penn Manor, effective July 1, 2019.

All survey responses must be submitted by January 25, 2019. The survey includes 13 questions, and all responses are anonymous.

You can take the survey here.

Thank you for responding thoughtfully to the survey questions. Your input is greatly apprciated.

School board votes to advance HS renovation/construction project

The Penn Manor board of school directors voted 7-1 Jan. 7 to advance the high school renovation and construction project.

The board approved the notice of intent to award construction bids totaling $82.7 million for the project, which will replace major portions of the school and renovate others.

New classroom, agricultural education and athletic wings will be built, along with a new auditorium and upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems.

The project also will include a new district office at the high school, which will open up space for classrooms at Manor Middle School, where the office is currently located.

Board members Ken Long, Nicki Nafziger, David Paitsel, Rich Frerichs, Joseph Fullerton, Donna Wert and Chris Straub voted in favor of accepting the bids. Carlton “Herk” Rintz voted against the measure. The ninth member, Mitchell Sweigart, was absent.

Construction bids came in higher than anticipated, but school district officials are confident the higher costs can be covered without an additional tax increase over the original, four-year funding plan.

The bids, opened Dec. 13, came in about $4.6 million above estimates. The total cost of the project, with all “soft costs,” including financing, construction management and contingency fees, is $99.9 million.

Penn Manor will be able to cover the additional expenses by using more of its reserve funds than originally planned, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager. Penn Manor has set aside $9.6 million so far for the project and has borrowed $40 million to cover initial phases and plans to borrow another $40 million to complete the project.

Major construction is scheduled to begin in March, and the project should be completed by summer 2022.

Alumni return to PMHS to share advice on college athletics

A group of eight Penn Manor alumni returned to the high school Jan. 3 to share advice with current Penn Manor students about attending college while participating in sports.

    The Athletic Alumni Roundtable, held in the high school cafeteria, attracted about 40 students, along with coaches and parents.

    The panel of collegians responded to questions about balancing athletics and academics, choosing the right college and the differences between athletics on the college and high school levels.

    After the question-and-answer session, the student athletes broke into small groups for individual discussions with students.

    The roundtable was designed to help Penn Manor students “become a little bit more college ready and to help them decide which colleges would be a good fit,” said Jason Mattern, Penn Manor athletic director.

   Many thanks to our alumni who participated in the event:

  • Brooke DeBerdine (Class of 2017) University of Maryland, field hockey
  • Cassie Kline (Class of 2015), Penn State University, field hockey
  • Doug Kramer (Class of 2017), Eastern University, cross country, track and field
  • Grant Gale (Class of 2017), Franklin & Marshall College, football
  • Matt Keller (Class of 2015), Syracuse University, football
  • Nick Kirk (Class of 2016), Ursinus College, lacrosse
  • Wyatt Barnett (Class of 2016), York College, lacrosse
  • Casey McCollum (Class of 2018), Lafayette College, football

HS students headed for state Future Business Leaders competition

Ten Penn Manor High School students have qualified to compete at the Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference in Hershey in April.

The students qualified by placing in the top three at the FBLA Region 18 Conference, held Dec. 18 at Cocalico High School.

Penn Manor’s top finishers were:

  • Max Forrey, first place, Journalism
  • Alex Mowery, first place, Business Calculations
  • Kaden Peart, second place, Political Science
  • Dominic Roma and Zach Bailey, third place, Sports & Entertainment Marketing
  • Dan Mader, Owen Rohrer and Trevor Grassel, third place, Marketing
  • Gavin Davidson and Garrett Garber, third place, Entrepreneurship

They will move on to compete at the state conference April 8 to 10 in Hershey.

Congratulations, and best wishes as you compete at States!

Kindergarten registration opens Jan. 7; Information Night is Feb. 5

Kindergarten registration for the 2019-2020 school year opens Monday, January 7, and Penn Manor is hosting an information night February 5 to familiarize parents with the kindergarten program and area preschools.

Students registering for kindergarten must be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2019, to be eligible to enroll for 2019-2020. Parents/guardians must begin the registration process online by clicking here.

The Kindergarten Information Night and Preschool Expo will be held February 5, from 6:15 to 8 p.m., at Hambright Elementary School, 3000 Charlestown Road, Lancaster 17603. 

The snow date is February 6.

Preschool Expo:  Beginning at 6:15 p.m., Penn Manor families will have the opportunity to network with representatives of local preschools to learn about pre-K options in our area. Penn Manor does not currently offer a preschool program.

Enrolling your child in a pre-K program helps build a solid foundation for learning and eases the transition to kindergarten.

Kindergarten Information Night At 7 p.m., our Penn Manor kindergarten teachers will provide an overview of our curriculum and explain how you can help ensure that your child is ready to attend kindergarten.

Parents may attend one or both events. Registration is not required, and child care will not be provided.

Please join us!

Penn Manor/Hempfield team places second in HackHershey

A team of students from Penn Manor and Hempfield was a top finisher in a statewide hacking competition held recently at Hershey High School.

    Kyler Stigelman, Adrian Lewis and Tristen Martin of Penn Manor and Michael Pagano of Hempfield placed second overall in HackHershey, a 12-hour programming competition that attracted 21 student teams from across Pennsylvania.

    The projects were judged on originality, technical difficulty, polish and usefulness.

    The four students developed an app called Face2Password that uses facial recognition software to assist people who forget their passwords.

    “The team had a fully working program completed in less than 10 hours, which was really impressive,” said Gina Kostelich, Penn Manor Student Help Desk specialist, who helped prepare Team Face2Password for the competition.

    The Penn Manor students all are enrolled in the Help Desk Course at Penn Manor High School, in which they complete repairs and provide technical support for student computers under the 1:1 Laptop Program.

    Help Desk students earn credits and work under the direction of Penn Manor’s professional information technology staff.

    “I think this course has really expanded their programming passion beyond a hobby,” Kostelich said.  “Plus, the students are now bonding and using their programming experience to do some really cool projects.” 

    “Bright futures are in store for this group.”   

    Tristen is a senior and Kyler and Aidan are sophomores at Penn Manor. Michael is a sophomore at Hempfield.

    The students received $600 worth of prizes, including a computer monitor, Airpods and Snapchat Spectacles, for their second-place finish.

Team members, from left, are Kyler Stigelman, Michael Pagano, Aidan Lewis and Tristen Martin.

HS project construction costs higher than anticipated

Bids for the construction/renovation project at Penn Manor High School came in higher than anticipated, but school district officials are confident the higher costs can be covered without an additional tax increase over the original, four-year funding plan.

    Construction bids, which were opened Dec. 13, totaled $82.3 million, about $4.6 million above estimates. The total cost of the project, with all “soft costs,” including financing, construction management and contingency fees, is $99.6 million.

    The project originally was projected to cost $87 million to $91.4 million, without construction management fees of $1.7 million and additional costs for soil stabilization. Those estimates did not include an alternate bid of $1.3 million to build district office space, and about $1 million in additional contingency fees to cover unanticipated construction cost.

    While most construction bids came in at or under projections, the general construction bid totaled $55.9 million — $6.4 million above estimates.

     Only one contractor bid on that portion of the project, which likely affected the bid.

    At a school board meeting Dec. 17, project architect Larry Levato of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates said his team is working with the contractor, Lobar Inc., to reduce general construction costs, but a significant reduction is not likely.

    School board directors discussed whether to rebid that portion of the project, but Levato said doing so would be unlikely to result in a lower bid and would increase costs by delaying the construction timetable.

    Penn Manor will be able to cover the additional expenses by using more of its reserve funds than originally planned, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager. Penn Manor has set aside $9.6 million so far for the project and has borrowed $40 million to cover initial phases and plans to borrow another $40 million to complete the project.

    The district administration and architect will work to reduce costs and update financing plans prior to a vote on the construction bids at the school board’s Jan. 7 meeting.

    The meeting will begin with a high school construction workshop at 5 p.m., followed by the 7 p.m. committee of the whole and voting meetings at Manor Middle School.

    The high school project will replace major portions of the school and renovate others. It will include new classroom, agricultural education and athletic wings, a new auditorium and upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems.

    Completion is expected by summer 2022.

JA STEM Summit exposes Penn Manor freshmen to real-world STEM careers

For the third year in a row, Penn Manor High School freshmen got to experience firsthand how science, technology, engineering and math principles are put into practice in STEM careers.

They participated in the Junior Achievement STEM Summit, held Dec. 11 and 12 in the high school gymnasium and classrooms. The day-long program included science experiments, engineering and math competitions and career explorations for every Penn Manor ninth-grader.

Students got to knock cups off each other’s heads by firing smoke rings of air from a giant trash can and pour chemicals into latex gloves, watching the chemical reaction transform them into colorful solid hands. They also were challenged to repair plumbing fixtures, manipulate a 3D printer, conduct medical tests and maneuver motorized robots to stack cones.

Professionals who work in STEM fields volunteered to lead the exercises, and students got to work directly with them to complete activities based on civil engineering, biology, physics, chemistry, design and math principles.

Many thanks to Junior Achievement, which provided the program free of charge to Penn Manor, with the assistance of volunteer professionals and Penn Manor students.

In all, more than 400 students got a taste of STEM in thought-provoking, stimulating ways!

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Ms. Vita honored as finalist for Teacher of the Year award

Congratulations to Maria Vita, who was honored this weekend as a finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award for 2019.

Vita, who has taught at Penn Manor since 2003, was one of 12 finalists who participated in the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Conference in Hershey.

She was introduced at the conference by former student Grace Rhine, a 2017 Penn Manor graduate.

Vita teaches Advanced Placement Psychology at Penn Manor and recently was named chair of the American Psychological Association Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools.

She helped establish an Aevidum student club at Penn Manor that seeks to create an atmosphere in which all students feel accepted, appreciated, acknowledged and cared for. Aevidum also works to increase awareness of depression and prevent teen suicides.

She was nominated for the Teacher of the Year award by Penn Manor Superintendent Mike Leichliter and his wife, Mary Edith, whose three children all had Maria for class.

“Maria exemplifies the mission of every teacher who wishes to make an impact on children by inspiring her students to love learning and instilling in them an appreciation for compassion and hard work,“ Leichliter said

“We could not have asked for a more caring and capable teacher for our children.”

Vita said she was “honored and humbled to be considered” for the award.

The 2019 Teacher of the Year is Marilyn Pryle, an English teacher from Abington Heights School District.

Many thanks, Ms. Vita, for representing Penn Manor as a finalist!

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Former board members, superintendents honored at Leadership Dinner

Former Penn Manor school board members and superintendents were honored Monday night for their service as Penn Manor hosted its biennial Leadership Dinner.

Held in the Manor Middle School cafeteria, the event brought together former school directors and superintendents, including Dr. Elmer Berkebile, Penn Manor’s first superintendent following school consolidation, who served from 1967 to 1983.

Other guests included nine former school board members and one former superintendent, along with their spouses. Joining them were current Penn Manor board members and administrators.

The dinner is held every other year to honor those who have helped guide the school district by serving in leadership roles. The group that gathered Monday amassed more than 150 years of service to Penn Manor.

In addition to Berkebile, attendees included former superintendent Don Stewart and former school directors Kirk Schlotzhauer, Frank Hoke, Alice Ahlfeld, Bob Kindig, Dick Bauder, John Wenzel, Pete Alecxih, Johnna Friedman and Jeff Lyon.

After dinner, a plaque commemorating former school board presidents was unveiled. It will be displayed in the board room.

To all who have served leadership roles in Penn Manor School District over the years, we appreciate your service!

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Ed Foundation awards $55,000 in Penn Manor teacher Venture Grants

Penn Manor students will be creating virtual tours of the Fulton Opera House, building robots for competitions, using drones to study agriculture and physics, and benefitting from the expertise of a visiting book illustrator and a professional actress under projects funded with Penn Manor Education Foundation Venture Grants.

PMEF has awarded 47 grants totaling more than $55,000 for 2018-2019 – a record dollar amount – to 46 teachers, counselors and principals at all 10 of Penn Manor schools.

The projects range from $46 for models of planets for second-graders at Central Manor Elementary School to more than $5,000 for a classroom set of Google Expeditions goggles and software to enable students to create and experience lessons in virtual and augmented reality.

Other grants are funding drones to be used in experiments and research in physics and agricultural education classes and a 3D printing pen that will enable students to create and study three-dimensional molecules and cell parts.

A $3,500 grant will fund materials for the high school’s robotics club, and other grants will take students to the Gettysburg National Military Park and the Museum of the American Revolution.

For the second year in a row, the Foundation has awarded a $3,000 grant to help train a therapy dog for one of its schools – Hambright Elementary – following the success of a similar effort at Manor Middle School last year.

Grants also will pay for alternative seating – camp chairs, standing desks, yoga mats and balance balls – at several schools. And several grants will be used to purchase foreign language reading materials and graphic novels at Penn Manor schools and libraries.

Since 2000, the Education Foundation has awarded more than 800 teacher Venture Grants in excess of $850,000, providing learning opportunities that teachers and schools could not fund on their own.

“The Venture Grant program allows PMEF, with the support of our community, to fund innovative ideas for teaching and learning,” said Jan Mindish, Foundation executive director.

“The enthusiasm that can result in the classroom from these projects can make all the difference in a child’s learning. PMEF applauds the initiative of our teachers, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

Erika McLaughlin, a Marticville teacher who received $700 to equip her classroom with STEM materials, said the grants “continuously support and enhance classroom instruction for our students.”

“We are so thankful to receive PMEF Venture Grants,” she said.

In addition to its Venture Grant program, PMEF supports Penn Manor students and families experiencing financial and emotional difficulties through its Strong & Healthy Families initiative and administers more than 50 annual scholarships for graduating Penn Manor High School seniors totaling more than $60,000.

A full list of Venture Grant projects is available here.


Dr. Gale named Penn Manor assistant superintendent

Congratulations to Dr. Phil Gale, who was appointed Penn Manor’s assistant superintendent for secondary education at the Nov. 6 school board meeting.

Currently principal of Penn Manor High School, Gale will take over as assistant superintendent July 1, 2019, upon the retirement of Cheryl Shaffer.

Principal of the high school since 2009, Gale previously served as dean of students, assistant principal and associate principal at the school.

Before joining the Penn Manor staff in 2000, he was a social studies and science teacher at schools in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Gale received his doctorate in educational leadership from Immaculata University in 2012, his master’s in education leadership from Millersville University in 2001 and his bachelor’s degree in social studies from Elizabethtown College in 1993.

“Dr. Gale is a dynamic leader with a proven track record of results during his tenure at Penn Manor High School,” said Dr. Mike Leichliter, Penn Manor superintendent.

“His leadership and commitment to raising expectations and standards for all students will be a welcome addition to our district-level leadership team,” he said.

Penn Manor will begin a search for a new high school principal later this school year.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Gale to his new position.

Dr. Phil Gale
Dr. Phil Gale


Manor FFA members earn gold at National Convention

A group of Manor FFA members earned a gold medal in Poultry Evaluation at the National FFA Convention and Expo, held Oct. 24-27 in Indianapolis.

The team of Sarah Bleacher, Renee Eshbach, Morgan Harnish and Megan Reen – all Penn Manor High School sophomores – placed 11th in the nation to earn the gold. Sarah and Renee each earned gold individual medals, and Morgan and Megan earned silver.

By earning gold, the team qualified for an all-expenses-paid trip to the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta in February.

Competitors had to take a test on poultry management, evaluate hens, broilers, eggs and carcasses and complete a team activity in which they evaluated fertility, egg weight and hatchery management and presented their findings to a panel of judges.

Also at the convention, the Manor FFA chapter earned a three-star rating – the highest possible – based on an application that outlined the plans, goals, and achievements of nine activities carried out by the chapter.

In addition, Manor FFA members Samantha Garrett and Shelby Martin received their American FFA Degrees, the highest degree achievable in the national FFA organization. Both are members of the Penn Manor Class of 2016.

Congratulations to the award recipients!

poultry evaluation team members
Members of the Manor FFA Poultry Evaluation team, from left, are Renee Eshbach, Morgan Harnish, Sarah Bleacher and Megan Reen.


High school renovation/construction project to get under way

Excavation is scheduled to begin the week of Oct. 29 on a key component of the renovation and reconstruction of Penn Manor High School.

Workers will begin erecting a temporary structure behind the current math/science wing to provide space for classrooms while the existing high school is under construction.

The temporary building initially will house agricultural education classrooms, which will be relocated next year. In the future, the structure will house an auxiliary gym.

Construction on the temporary building will be confined to the area outside the East Gym and the parking lots behind the high school. Bus and car traffic will be rerouted around the area.

Please watch for signs directing motorists to follow new traffic patterns.

The temporary classroom building should be ready for occupancy in the spring.

This is the first leg of the renovation/construction project, which is expected to cost about $87 million and take three years for completion. The full project goes out to bid next month.

Work will include upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems, along with replacement of major sections of the school.

Proposed new classroom spaces include an art suite, a three-story humanities classroom section, a two-story science, technology, engineering and math wing, and new agricultural classrooms, labs and a greenhouse. A new athletic wing also is planned, along with a 900-seat auditorium and band, chorus, orchestra and ensemble rooms.

The project is projected to cost $87 million, with the option of an alternate proposal that adds district offices. With that option included, along with construction management fees, the total project cost is estimated at $91 million.

Work is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2022.

We appreciate the cooperation of the Penn Manor community as we undertake this exciting and ambitious project!