Well we are off and running here in South Western! As you can imagine the last 2 months have been a whirlwind for me and the staff. The start of every school year is a time of anticipation for a wonderful school year and excitement to meet new friends. I have seen both of these first hand as I have visited each school multiple times over these past few months. It is one of my favorite things to do, visit classrooms and witness the outstanding opportunities for our students.

While I have been impressed by many different moments here in South Western; I think some of the most impressive moments were in classrooms where students were challenged by their teacher(s) to think outside the box. Or, when a student works together with a classmate to “tackle” a problem. I have also been impressed by the reimagining of some of the school district's classrooms. Reimagining through flexible seating appearing all across the district. It has been said the classroom design has not changed in a hundred years. Well, I would invite those people to our school district to see some of the innovative ways the seating in our classrooms has changed, inviting students to converse about their learning and the tasks that have been assigned to the class.

One more topic before I end my opening letter to you, the South Western Community. The topic is pride. It has been one of the most palpable feelings I have experienced since my arrival. It started with the excitement at the bus stops when Dr. Hartman and I rode the buses on the first day of school. It was reinforced by the spirit sticks and school building t-shirts worn during sprite week, and one of my favorites, the lip sync challenge held at the HS Pep Rally between the students and the teachers. There is such a feeling of community pride in all we do here in South Western. So, as we continue our journey together this school year, I would ask you to continue your support by showing your pride in our school district and continue your support of our students and teachers, for it is you that drives us all to be the best we can be!

Dr. Jay H. Burkhart

Superintendent (2017-Present)

Responsible for organization and implementation of all programs and personnel. Provide informed professional leadership to board and staff. Oversee selection, deployment, and supervision of all district employees. Lead in development of two-way system of internal and external communications for district. Lead in the development and maintenance of cooperation between schools and community.

Dr. Burkhart's evaluation was completed on June 26, 2019, and he met the objective performance standards in his Contract.





  • College Readiness Increase student achievement in the areas of reading and math to ensure that at least 80% of students make a year's worth of growth in both areas.
  • Career Readiness To develop an after-school co-curricular plan for students at the elementary level for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Life Readiness Implement the learner profile and goal setting process for all learners in grades K-5.

Emory H. Markle Intermediate School


  • College Readiness
    • 69% of EHMIS students will be proficient or advanced in Language Arts as measured by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments. (PSSA). The statewide goal for 2030 is 81.1%
    • 54% of EHMIS students will be proficient or advanced in Mathematics as measured by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA). The statewide goal for 2030 is 71.8%
    • 90% of EHMIS students enrolled in Algebra One will be proficient or advanced as measured by the Keystone Exam.
    • PSSA Scores are unofficial until fall
  • Career Readiness ALL EHMIS students (100%) will participate in the Career Initiative Program. This includes participating in the career event applicable to each grade level in addition to completing appropriate Career Cruising activities that will be applied to the College and Career domain of the PA Future Ready Index.
    • 6th Grade - Career Day
    • 7th Grade - Business Visits
    • 8th Grade - College Visits
  • Life Readiness The percentage of students at EHMIS participating in two or more co-curricular activities will increase by 5-7% from the 2018-19 school year. Co-Curricular activities are defined as performing arts, athletics and/or Intramural Programs and clubs. (Career Ready Benchmark -two or more organized Co-Curricular Activities)

South Western High School


  • College Readiness To increase enrollment in AP, Dual Enrollment/college in the high school, and honors level courses by a total of 2%.
  • Career Readiness Increase the number of students attending YCAL career exploration programs and other workplace experiences (shadowing, internships, etc.) by 3%.
  • Life Readiness 100% of the students will choose their Career Pathway prior to creating their 2020- 2021 schedule.

Athletic Director


  • To integrate best practices and enhance the efficiency of the many aspects of the interscholastic athletic process.
  • To increase the continuity between junior high and high school athletics within the District.
  • To strengthen the relationship between the South Western School District Athletic Department and the local community.

Administration - Director of Data & Instructional Technology


  • Lead the All Hazards Plan (AHP) - Emergency Operations Manual (EOM) review and revision process.
  • Co-Lead the 19-member committee tasked with researching learning management systems to make a recommendation for adoption at South Western.

Administration - Pupil Services


  • Refine the district plan focused on career readiness for secondary special education students and lifelong learning habits for early childhood aged students in the emotional support program.
  • Support staff and students with an increased focus on mental health opportunities for training and implementation of strategies in order to help facilitate life readiness and influence college and career readiness.
  • Communicate effectively and strategically to ensure an empowering and effective Pupil Services Department.

Administration - Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment


  • Establish consistent use of curricular monitoring/implementation protocols for administrative team to guide oversight in the alignment of the written and taught curriculum.
  • Develop a STEM integration plan that includes leadership development, professional training, integration of STEM skills across curricular areas, and protocols for guiding a systems analysis of support and implementation features.
  • Redefining Ready Goal Develop curriculum sequence, resource materials and training/support plans for the elementary and middle level admin and teacher leadership teams regarding student performance of Text Dependent Analysis writing.
  • Redefining Ready Goal Design a process and protocol for developing and revising honors level curriculum and instructional sequences for all secondary ELA, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies courses.
  • Personal Professional Growth Goal Develop a strategically aligned micro-credentialing plan including process and resources designed to develop teacher leaders as curriculum coaches who function within existing and/or newly created district systems.

Administration - Superintendent


  • EHMIS Renovation The Superintendent will provide oversight of the EHMIS Building Renovation Project
  • Redefining Ready Goal Develop a district certificate for high school students to earn as a credential for achieving a life readiness endorsement to share with local employers, military recruiters and college admissions officers.
  • Support the Board and Business Administrator in a successful resolution of the contract negotiations process with SWEA.
  • Personal Professional Growth Goal Maximize home-school communication and further increase parental engagement throughout the school community.

Administration - Assistant Superintendent


  • PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE #1: Ensure all district students have equitable access to a highly qualified and highly effective professional and support staff based on the following key point indicators:
    • 100% of professional staff are appropriately state certified
    • 100% of paraprofessionals working in Title I buildings meet highly qualified status
    • 100% of employees complete required Safe Schools assigned trainings
    • 100% of educational administrators obtain their individual ‘Personal Professional Growth Goal'
    • Maintain less than a 20% various in average years of experience among the four elementary schools going into the 2020-2021 school year
    • Less than 5% of teaching staff in any one building identified as ‘Ineffective' based on the ESSA Teacher Effectiveness Rating going into the 2020-2021 school year.
    • Maintain an attrition rate of 10% or less for professional staff with five or less years of experience and 15% or less for support staff with five or less years of experience
    • 95% of non-tenured professional staff receive performance rating of proficient or above on the mid-year and end-of-year evaluation scores
    • Increase the substitute fill rate by 5% (81% to 86%) from 2018-2019
  • PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE #2: Ensure 100% of district staff have access to and participate in professional development activities that support their growth and lead to increased employee engagement based on the following key point indicators:
    • 100% of new non-tenured professional staff successfully complete induction requirements
    • 100% of employees complete required Safe Schools assigned trainings
    • Maintain an attrition rate of 5% or less for professional staff with five or less years of experience and 15% or less for support staff with five or less years of experience
    • 90% or more of eligible teachers select Differentiated Supervision as their mode of supervision
    • 75% of selected candidates participate in the Leadership Apprenticeship Program
  • PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE #3: Fill all employment vacancies throughout the organization with highly qualified candidates in a timely manner based on the following key point indicators:
    • 95% of professional vacancies filled within 60 days of initial posting
    • 85% of support positions filled within 60 days of initial posting)
    • 95% of non-tenured professional staff receive performance rating of proficient or above on the mid-year and end-of-year evaluation scores
    • 90% of new support staff hires receive a satisfactory rating on their post introductory period evaluation
    • 100% of new professional staff hires are appropriately state certified or have a PDE approved emergency certificate
  • Redefining Ready Goal Provide leadership and support in helping the district develop and implement a framework that identifies and measures Life Readiness indicators for students K-12 and supports students in being College, Career, and Life ready.
  • Personal Professional Growth Goal Provide timely and effective communications and support to key stakeholders regarding professional growth, supervision, and human capital management related decisions and information. (Domain 2- Systems Leadership; Component 2eCommunicates Effectively and Strategically: Domain 4- Professional and Community Leadership; Component 4c- Supports Professional Growth)

Administration - Business Administrator


  • Achieve a successful resolution to the contract negotiations process with SWEA.
  • Prepare and propose a district-wide wellness initiative available to all employees.
  • Redefining Ready Provide high school students with shadowing opportunities in concert with the Redefining Ready program.

Director of Accounting Services


  • Assist the Business Administrator with the contract negotiations process with SWEA.
  • Work with Doug Greenholt to investigate a record storage and retrieval system
  • Develop Policies / Procedures for District Student Activity Accounts
  • Investigate the Need for Changing Accounting Software for the SW Education Foundation.
  • Determine Funding for A-Plus Certifications and After School Bus Runs for Extra-curricular Activities.

Director of School Facilities


  • Facilities Management Represent district interest throughout course of EHMIS Renovation
  • Redefining Ready Offer exposure, knowledge and experience towards the advancement of career readiness in the building industry; design, construction and maintenance. I will offer guest speaking and facilitating opportunities for internship and/or shadowing for students interested in the mechanical trades, architecture, and engineering or construction management.

Director of Transportation


  • Community Relations Create a video for elementary parents.
  • Board Policy Review all school policies that pertain to transportation, add or change as needed.
  • Safety Research school bus/van accidents with our insurance company.
  • Redefining Ready Investigate, set up and implement (if practical) training for SW students to get a CDL.
  • Research how to improve transportation reimbursement from the state.

Director of Food and Nutrition Services


  • Food Service Operations To Start a Summer Feeding Pilot Program at both Park Hills and Baresville Elementary.
  • Food Service Operations Make a standard catering menu with options and pricing for catering events.
  • Redefining Ready Offer guest speaking, internship or shadowing for students of interest in food service or nutrition to gain hours and knowledge for career readiness.

Director of Technology


  • Redefining Ready Provide Tech Center Students educational opportunities for advanced certifications.
  • Technology Support the implementation of Xello, iReady, Pearson, and the new LMS.
  • Technology Review District web presence and plan revisions to provide a consistent interface for all users.
  • Technology Work with Doug Fuhrman to develop/implement record retention system.
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