In October, the Fairfield Area School District (FASD) school board was in a quandry. Their current superintendent Michael Adamek had resigned at the end of his contract period on Oct. 22 and they had hired Thomas Haupt as the new superintendent. But Haupt couldn’t start until February.
Fortunately for them, former Gettysburg Area School District student and school superintendent Dr. Larry Redding stepped up to fill the 4-month gap to keep things running smoothly.
Redding said his experience in education has brought him “full circle,” and that despite his retirement in 2017 he hasn’t slowed down. “I became interested in teaching from the influence of my high school teachers, especially my vocational agriculture teachers at Gettysburg Area High School,” Redding said.
Following that passion, Redding earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Penn State University, following it with a Masters degree in school administration from Western Maryland College (renamed McDaniel College in 2002). He received his Pennsylvania Department of Education Superintendents’ Letter of Eligibility from Shippensburg University, then his doctorate in educational leadership and school administration from Widener University.
In addition to teaching positions in Bermudian Springs and Dover Area school districts, Redding was also an assistant principal for Dover Area High School and principal at West Perry High School. Locally Redding is best known for his work at Gettysburg Area High School, where he served as curriculum and instruction specialist, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
He retired as the superintendent in 2017.
“As an educator, I am keenly focused on the fact we are in the people business and we need to understand how important clear and positive messages are to our individual and collective successes,” Redding said. “Building personal relationships with students, parents, teachers, and community members creates a solid foundation for difficult times. I value the personal interactions I have with people and see them as critical to the mission of public education.”
“The biggest challenge public schools are facing is the reduction of ‘school success’ to a single ‘soundbite’,” Redding said. “Public schools have been asked to do more and more every year for the past 50 years. This year the new focus was on ensuring individual health safety. Public health concerns are a top priority, but are not the only item of daily focus. Our teachers, staff and administrators are working as hard as ever to ensure academic success, meet social and emotional health needs, and address the nutritional and physical needs of the hundreds of students in our care every day.”
“We have learned that the best place for students is in a classroom with a highly skilled, professional educator and in a building filled with the support services necessary for both the individual needs and the collective community needs,” he said. “Public schools are, and continue to be, a great investment in our desire for an educated citizenry.”
Redding enjoys helping the district, but isn’t considering truly leaving retirement, saying he enjoys the freedom he has to pursue his passions.
“I love having the flexibility to do things when other people are working and avoid busy weekends,” Redding said. “I have more time to volunteer and to do gardening and lawn work, I have more time with my children and grandchildren and I have more time to be physically active – golf, running, biking and snow skiing.”
Even with a full calendar Redding managed to squeeze in his work as interim superintendent. The position is yet another way for him to give to the community while also achieving a personal goal.
“Returning to temporary professional employment and service is a benchmark in my personal journey on the road to a level of health and fitness I wanted to attain,” Redding said. “The current shortage of staffing in all careers, especially education, also contributed to my desire to offer my expertise to the Fairfield Area School District. I have a skillset that I feel will be an asset to the district and I understand the challenges my colleagues in education are facing and I’m willing and able to assist!”
In Fairfield, Redding has found employees willing to help the schools and community despite the challenges.
“The biggest thing I enjoy is the eagerness of the administrators and staff to utilize my background and skills to keep the district moving forward,” Redding said. “Over 940 students depend on the school district for their academic, physical, social, emotional, and nutritional needs. I am here to ensure our team of teachers, staff, administrators and board members deliver on our obligation to our students and their families.”
No exact date has yet been announced for Haupt to start his new position. Redding’s contract extends until Feb. 22, though he said Haupt could fill the position earlier. (Redding said it will “most likely” not be after Feb. 22.)
“Mr. Haupt called me on my first day working at Fairfield and expressed his thanks to me for agreeing to help with the transition,” Redding said. “He is eager to begin working here, but has contractual obligations with his current school district that he needs to meet first. I will help him make a smooth transition and do my best to tie loose ends and keep things moving until his arrival. He does plan to visit the district several days before his official start date and I will assist him in that endeavor, too.”
During the Nov. 8 school board meeting, Redding informed the board that Haupt intends to visit the district on Friday, Dec. 10.
Haupt currently serves as the superintendent of Millersburg Area School District. He was previously an assistant middle school principal, middle school principal and director of elementary education for the West Shore School District, according to his biography on the Millersburg district’s website.
Haupt did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Imari Scarbrough, Reporter, is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.
You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.