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 August 23, 2023, and he met the objective performance standards in his Contract.





  • Re-envision the role, purpose, and operation of the Reading Specialist as an elementary team to support the English Language Art Curriculum.
  • Develop a plan to strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders and increase student exposure to job related skills and career options.
  • Create an optimal learning environment for the whole child by developing and implementing Tier 1 and Tier 2 strategies focusing on social, emotional, and academic needs.

Emory H. Markle Middle School


  • By the end of the 2022-2023 school year, 100% of EHMMS teachers will utilize Canvas LMS as:
    • Communication platform for parents.
    • Primary Gradebook for communicating grades to students and parents.
    • Platform to manage student centered/blending learning.
  • EHMMS will re-envision our STRIVE (PBIS) tier one levels of support, in addition to developing and implementing Tier 2 level strategies to identify and develop targeted support for students.
  • EHMMS will implement a Universal Screening Tool to identify students who are in need of mental health support and services with the goal of student success academically, behaviorally and socially-emotionally.

South Western High School


  • To develop and implement activities that will prepare college bound students to be successful during their post-secondary education. These activities will focus on study habits, time management, stress reduction techniques, organizational strategies, and overall skills to aid in post-secondary success.
  • Develop in collaboration with each high school department a school wide menu of at least four PDE and other industry-based learning experiences which students will select from during the 2023-2024 school year to earn an industry recognized credential.
  • To increase student involvement in extracurricular and co-curricular activities by 3% from the baseline data collected during the 2021-2022 school year.

Athletic Director


  • To investigate, develop and implement more/new athletic opportunities that will help prepare both employment bound and/or college bound student-athletes to be successful during their careers and/or post-secondary education.
  • To develop and implement a college athletic workshop in person or online event that will prepare potential college bound student-athletes to be successful during their post-secondary education. This activity will focus on NCAA athletic eligibility, NCAA clearinghouse, the differences between NCAA divisions, recruiting tools, and overall information to aid in post-secondary college athletic recruiting and success.
  • Develop a plan to provide myself with more opportunities for both personal & professional growth in the field of athletic administration.

Administration - Special Education


  • Parent training and engagement is an area of need identified through the special education plan process. The SWSD administrative team has also recognized this as an area of need specific to mental health and substance abuse.
    Provide a variety of opportunities for training and engagement on topics related to special education, mental health and substance abuse.
  • Provide a continued focus on and growth of the mental wellness offerings available to the South Western School District including group and individual supports to students with identified mental health needs through the Student Assistance Process and additional means of identification.
  • Continue to grow the administrative team in the area of strategic and cultural leadership as measured by each administrator implementing at least one strategy or practice (individually or as a team) in the areas of communication, capacity building, and culture/climate improvement.

Administration - Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment


  • Over the last three years, I have been developing leadership systems with the focus of influencing the professional culture around curriculum design and implementation. Last year, the goal to develop a secondary curriculum and assessment liaison team was completed with success. Additionally, the role of the instructional technology coaching team has strengthened their focus to build capacity in connecting instructional technology with curriculum design and implementation.
    • With these adjustments, our team has now expanded to include a fourth member, and this has led to reassigned roles and responsibilities for each member of the team. All of these details contextualizes the proposed focus for this coming year - to strengthen the capacity of the current curricular and instructional technology leadership team in how they coach and lead professional learning around curriculum quality and alignment, and in the implementation of assessment design and practice.
    •  Develop leadership training, resources and support structures used by the curriculum liaisons, and the curriculum and instructional technology coaching team that will focus on quality design metrics, assessment alignment, and student centered learning experiences.
  • Assist in the design and development of a K-12 STEM instructional program that incorporates changes to the newly adopted PA standards in Science and Technology, and the PA Endorsed Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) standards.
  • Continue to grow the administrative team in the area of strategic and cultural leadership as measured by each administrator implementing at least one strategy or practice (individually or as a team) in the areas of communication, capacity building, and culture/climate improvement.
  • Generate a fiscally responsible plan aligned to the existing human resource/capital strategy within the district that will examine models of K-12 curriculum instruction and assessment coaching throughout the core content areas (Literacy/Writing, Science/Technology, Mathematics and Social Studies).

Administration - Director of Accountability, Comparability & Reporting


  • Lead the implementation of online testing for PSSAs/Keystones as measured by the action steps below.
  • Lead the district Federal Programs as measured by the action steps below.
  • Continue to grow the SWSD administrative team in the area of strategic and cultural leadership as measured by each administrator implementing at least one strategy or practice (individually or as a team) in each of the areas of (1) Communication; (2) Capacity building; and (3) Climate/Culture improvement. Measured by the action steps below.
  • Train new administrative assistant as measured by the action steps below.

Administration - Assistant Superintendent


  • By the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, assist the high school in developing a minimum of four new work-based learning opportunities (industry-recognized credentialing, internship/shadowing opportunities, pre-apprenticeships) that will be offered to students during the 2023-2024 school year.
  • By the end of the 2022-2023 school year, develop a vision for Social-Emotional Learning opportunities within the district and complete a gap-analysis of current practices compared to the desired vision, including the development of a matrix of support for SEL that addresses the five main competencies of SEL.
  • Continue to grow the SWSD administrative team in the area of strategic and cultural leadership as measured by each administrator implementing at least one strategy or practice (individually or as a team) in each of the areas of (1) Communication; (2) Capacity building, and; (3) Climate/Culture improvement.

Administration - Superintendent


  • Evaluate the current curriculum materials available to support the K-5 science program and its alignment to NGSS and secondary curriculum maps. Also, upon evaluation of the program and materials, make a recommendation to the Board of School Directors on what, if any, hands on science materials will better support the district curriculum and NCSS alignment.
  • Evaluate the existing Mental Health supports available in the South Western School District to determine what additional supports, if any, are necessary for the current school year and beyond.
  • Provide leadership through professional development in the area of strategic and cultural leadership for SWSD administrative team.
  • Work to coordinate and facilitate the design and implementation of the SWHS Renovation for the 2023-24 school year.

Administration - Business Administrator


  • Work toward achieving a successful resolution to the contract negotiations process with SWEA.
  • Serve as an officer (President Elect) for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.
  • Provide high school students with shadowing opportunities.

Director of Accounting Services


  • Implement the SCView Records Retention Software.
  • Complete the comprehensive Business Office operations manual.
  • Develop a policy / procedures manual for the Student Activity accounts.

Director of School Facilities


  • Coordinate and plan the High School addition/renovation.
  • Offer exposure, knowledge and experience towards the advancement of career readiness in the building industry – design, construction and maintenance.
    • 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


  • Revise the current transportation handbook.
  • Develop contingency transportation plans.
  • Work with local agencies to attract and advertise for bus drivers.

Director of Food and Nutrition Services


  • Plan to serve students’ district wide a nutritious meal while maintaining food safety and sanitation.
  • Update all elementary recipes and components in PrimeroEdge to match the government commodities and vendors currently being used under the National school Lunch Program effective July 1, 2022.
  • Offer guest speaking, internship or shadowing for students interested in food service to gain hours and knowledge for future careers. Gather student information about different foods they would like to see in our cafeterias in the future and meet with all 6th and 9th graders during health class to discuss new options, NSLP program, and an understanding of what makes a meal at each level.

Director of Technology


  • Provide technical information required for High School building project.
  • Continue to implement necessary Equipment, Software, and Procedures to provide cyber security protection.
  • Provide technical support for the implementation of SCView.
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