April 2015 IAPSS District Superintendent’s of the Year (Districts 7 and 8)

Posted on April 3, 2015


District 7

Princeton-area School Leader Named Superintendent of the Year for Dist. 7

Superintendent Dr. Brian Harmon Honored For Financial Decision Maki

Harmon faced huge funding issues totaling $1.6 million in lost revenue from the State of Indiana. To meet budget restrictions the district restructured the health benefit program, evaluated bus routes and opened the bus program to more competitive bidding and dissolved old programs, all changes he implemented beginning in 2011.  He has also supervised the construction of a new high school, and the remodeling of buildings housing grades 3-5, K-2, and currently under construction grades 6-8.

            Harmon began his career as a Kaiser Chemical assistant plant manager, but then took a different path and became a high school teacher at North Putnam Schools and Springs Valley Schools. His early superintendent positions were with Shoals Community Schools and Barr-Reeve School Corp. He came to North Gibson School Corp. in 2011.

He graduated from Purdue, DePauw, and Indiana State universities. He earned his doctor of education from Oakland City University in 2007.

Harmon is an active member of numerous education and professional organizations. He is also a Reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Dept., is the chair of the Daviess County Emergency Management Advisory Council and has served as a board member of the Indiana Homeland Security Dist. 10 Planning Council.

Brian Lee Harmon, Superintendent, North Gibson School Corporation
District 8

West Clark Community Schools Leader Named

Superintendent of the Year for Dist. 8

Superintendent Monty Schneider Honored For Keeping the District

Together during Tornado Devastation and Financial Crises

The West Clark Community Schools not only survived but flourished during the tough financial time of the past few years. It completed a $32 million building project; started new programs and survived the tornado, all without laying off a single teacher.

The story of the tornado that hit West Clark’s Henryville campus is legend. March 2, 2012 saw a tornado rip through this small community, 20 miles north of Louisville, KY. Eighty students and faculty who stayed in the district’s building were unharmed. The building, which housed kindergarten through high school students, was 70 percent damaged with replacement costs estimated at $50 million. Elementary students finished the school year in a former private school 15 miles away, and high school students completed the year in a vocational school 10 miles away. The restoration of Henryville schools was completed in five months.

Remembering the devastation Schneider said: “Restoration would not have been possible without the full support of the Board of Education, staff, students, parents, community, other schools, government, and especially the people of this great county.

“Students returning to school in Henryville are the highlight of my 41 years in education.”

Schneider was previously superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp and became superintendent at West Clark Community School in 2007.

He is a member of the Communities in Schools, Clark County; and Local Works Council, Region 10. He has given numerous presentations on tornado preparedness to education and community groups.

Monty Schneider, Superintendent, West Clark Community Schools

Each District Superintendent of the Year was asked to respond to four questions:

District 8 Monty Schneider

What program(s) or activities in your school district that focus on improving student learning do you feel are the most successful?

Differentiated Instruction – Learning Centers in classrooms.  Technology enhanced student paced instruction such as Scholastic Read 180, Systems 44, I Read, Raz Kids, and Open Book.  Organizational skills for students.

What have been your most significant challenges as a supt. and how have you dealt with them?

The March 2, 2012 tornado that destroyed about seventy percent of the Henryville Schools.  Fortunately no students or school personnel were injured.  The biggest challenge was immediate.  Where could we house 1200 K-12 students?  Within a week, a closed former K-12 private school offered space for Henryville Elementary School.  A business park/tech school was remodeled for Henryville JrSr High School.  In less than a month, students were back in school.  In less than five months, the Henryville Schools were reopened for the start of the next school year.

If you could improve one aspect of K-12 Education today, what would it be and what changes would you make?

Less testing.  Settle on a test and stick with it for more than a year or two.  Pre- test and post- test.  Adjust instruction from those tests.

What advice would you give to aspiring or beginning superintendents?

Don’t be bashful about asking other superintendents how they would handle a particular situation.  Chances are good that there is more than one way to have a successful outcome.  You really don’t know until you sit in the superintendent’s chair.  Every one of us started as a rookie.