New superintendent speaks at chamber breakfast
Dr. Kendra Trail talked about her journey to the Greencastle-Antrim School District during the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday morning. The new superintendent’s account included crossing paths with previous G-A administrators, getting new jobs when she wasn’t looking for them and district priorities.
Trail joined the district in May, nearly a year after Dr. C. Gregory Hoover announced his plans to retire. She most recently served as executive director of the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit.
Trail talked about growing up in Hancock, Maryland, where she still lives, and how it is a quaint, accessible town just three minutes from both Pennsylvania and Maryland.
She gained work, business and leadership experience at her parents’ businesses, Hancock Block, a hardware store and a lawn mower business.
She always knew she wanted to be a first-grade teacher. After a year at the then-Hagerstown Junior College, she took some time off and was soon married and the mother of twins. While working at her parents’ hardware store and with the support of her husband, Ronnie, she started taking night classes until he encouraged her to go back to school full-time. Her husband became “Mr. Mom” as she completed 50 credits in a year and a half at Frostburg State University then started working at Hancock Elementary. Over the next eight years she worked in the Washington County, Maryland, school system, including teaching first grade, fifth grade and gifted students and serving as a math specialist.
Her next move was to the Southern Fulton School District as elementary principal. She spent about 10 years in the district, and recalls hearing former G-A administrators, Dr. P. Duff Rearick, superintendent, and Jack Appleby, high school principal, speak at a summer leadership retreat sponsored by the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit.
Ralph Scott, Southern Fulton superintendent, was “an amazing mentor.”
“I had no desire to be a superintendent or get a doctorate,” Trail said. “He kept pushing me. When he retired, I decided to apply.”
During her first year as Southern Fulton superintendent, G-A’s Dr. Greg Hoover was her mentor.
“Going from principal to superintendent is a whole different game,” she admitted, citing political and personnel issues. “It was a great learning experience, but I had a couple of board members who made my life a little uncomfortable and it was in my best interest to move on.”
She became curriculum director for the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit then, again when she wasn’t looking for a new job, replaced the retiring executive director.
She was researching a project, called the G-A District and the person she talked to said the district was without a superintendent.
She said is she were ever to go back into superintendency it would G-A or someplace like it.
Then Trail was contacted during the lengthy search for a new superintendent and decided not to apply.
“I told people I would retire from the IU and I didn’t want to be a job hopper,” she recalled.
After a second candidate opted not to take the position, she got a call to “please come and talk to the board.”
She agreed and promised to keep an open mind.
“I felt an overwhelming tugging at my heart that this was the right place,” she said.
In her two and a half months on the job, Trail said she has learned the “administrative team is top notch.”
The future of the district “is not about my vision,” said Trail, explaining she has met individually with administrators and board members. Surveys have been sent to parents and staff concerning the districts strengths and where improvements are needed.
Safety is a priority and Trail also is meeting with the school police officer and the director of transportation, school safety and security.
She also is looking at student achievement, especially in the area of mathematics.
And space is a challenge as administrative areas have been converted for instructional use.
“We have no district office, per se,” Trail said.
There also are not a lot of answers to the district’s fiscal picture, which includes a projected shortfall of $1.4 million, due in part to flat state funding.
“I know the team I have and we’re going to work very hard to do what’s best for our students,” Trail said.