The tenure of Dr. Kendra Trail as the Greencastle-Antrim School District superintendent has run the gamut from a solar eclipse to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trail, who joined the district in May 2017, is leaving June 30 to become assistant executive director of Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12. She will be succeeded by Dr. Lura Hanks.
Under Trail's leadership, the district has improved school safety, launched an education technology plan, operated under the threat of a teachers strike and considered an earlier school start time.
"I don't feel like I've accomplished anything by myself, it's been hand-in-hand with the administrative team," Trail said.
Trail said she will miss the wonderful people she has worked with in the district and "the focus they have on students. They are always look for ways to enhance opportunities for students."
She also will miss the students and has thoroughly enjoyed working with the school board.
The years in review
Trail's first major decision was, with the support of the school board, closing the school campus to the public during the school day, including Tayamentasachta, the district environmental center with its popular duck pond, and the track, where people like to walk.
That was the first step in ramping up district safety and security, and Trail said, "To me it was really essential in the day and age we live in to get that piece completed."
The district's emergency operations plan has been updated, building entrances have been made secure and teacher have been trained in "run, fight, hide."
A few weeks after the campus closure announcement, Trail was the first superintendent in Franklin County to decide to delay the first day of school on Aug. 21, 2017, for the safety of students during the solar eclipse. Student safety also came to the forefront when a possible graffiti threat prompted the evacuation of eighth-graders' Cumberland Life Festival in May 2018.
The district's Equal Technology Opportunities initiative was approved in August 2019, formulated with by Dwight Bard, district director of technology, and a committee made up of administrators, board members, teachers and parents. The first major step in the plan was taken this January, when each student at Greencastle-Antrim High School was given an iPad.
That paid off when schools were shutdown in March due to COVID-19, allowing high schoolers to finish the year online.
Students in the lower grades also received online instruction during the pandemic, but due to varying levels of technology available to them, it did not encompass all their studies.
"We were able, because of the administrative team, to step up to plate and put our heads together," Trail said. Within weeks, teachers were trained in online instruction and families were provided with curriculum and activities.
"The celebration really goes out to the teachers for continuing to connect with students and families at a critical time," Trail said.
Another critical time involving teachers was the contract impasse in 2017-18, with the possibility of a strike. The district had a plan in place in case of a strike, which was averted with a contract settlement.
The school board identified one of Trail's goals as making a recommendation on whether to change school start time. Many schools have changed or considered changing school start time as a result of research concerning adolescent sleep patterns.
After study by a committee and several public meetings, the board voted in spring 2019 not to change school start time.
"Even though the board's decision wasn't the recommendation of the committee, I'm proud of the work completed and the process we used," Trail said.
Trail did not go looking for the job in the G-A School District, but was asked to apply. She did not go looking for the LIU job in LIU No. 12, but was asked to consider the position.
She spent many hours wrestling with the decision over Christmas break before submitting her resignation in January.
"The positives of going to LIU outweighed the negative. It will mean more time with my family," said Trail, who became a grandmother last year.
As executive director of LIU, which includes Franklin County schools, she will support the executive director; coordinate adult education services, nonpublic school services, English as a second language and programs for homeless students and those in foster care; provide assistance in school district planning, improvement and resources; and foster collaborative initiatives involving schools, agencies and community partners.