Dr. Harner announces his retirement, effective end of school year

Dr. Harner has served in QCSD for nearly 10 years, helping transform the Upper Bucks district into a leading K-12 educational institution both in academics and the technology fields.
Posted on 11/29/2022
Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner speaks in the Community Room of the District Services CenterBy Gary Weckselblatt

Quakertown Community School District Superintendent Dr. William E. Harner, a highly successful leader in education following a 20-year leadership career in the Army, announced Tuesday he will be retiring in June at the end of the school year.

“It was an honor and a privilege to be the educational leader for the Quakertown Community School District,” he said. “The academic success of our students and the professional growth and success of our employees are my passion. Making the world a much better place one student at a time is always at the forefront of my thinking.”

Dr. Harner has served in QCSD for nearly 10 years, helping transform the Upper Bucks district into a leading K-12 educational institution both in academics and the technology fields.

“I knew Quakertown had arrived as a school district when Realtors began advertising about Quakertown’s high-performing school district,” he said. “It’s special when others recognize what you already know.”

During his tenure, QCSD moved from unranked to being ranked seven years in a row with the US News & World Report’s America’s Best High School Silver Award. College readiness and the number of Advanced Placement course offerings more than doubled; SAT scores jumped 110 points by year four; and student participation in technical education increased by 20 percent.

Dr. Harner brought the three A’s to Quakertown in his strategic plan - transformation in Academics, Arts and Athletics. He created a culture of trust through transparency and communication; wrote hundreds of blogs to the Quakertown community that included every aspect of student life to school district performance and budgetary data; conducted numerous town hall meetings, and involved parents and others in community committees that tackled tough district-level issues. A few of the initiatives include adding Pre-K, full-day kindergarten, gifted curriculum, and expansion of world language opportunities. At the individual level, Dr. Harner has counseled and coached hundreds of students on their academic program and post-high school options, writing letters of recommendation for many.

While he will be leaving Quakertown, Dr. Harner said he is open to other possibilities, including educational and public policy positions at the local, state, and federal levels. Following his retirement, he noted QCSD has “the leadership in place to take care of this district for the next 10 to 15 years. We have two incredibly qualified Assistant Superintendents (Nancianne Edwards and Dr. Lisa Hoffman) ready to take the reins.”

School Board President Jon Kern said, “The strides that this district took under his leadership border on being unbelievable. His forward-thinking approach to building a team that exhibits camaraderie and a drive for excellence is second to none. Dr. Harner spearheaded an approach to break down silos that were in place across the various buildings and departments – an almost unheard of tactic in public school systems. Quakertown Community School District would not be in the good place it is today were it not for Dr. Harner.”

Adam Schmucker, principal of Trumbauersville Elementary School, described Dr. Harner as an “unequaled educational leader.”

“Dr. Harner is a visionary leader, '' he said. “His guidance over the last nine years in the Quakertown Community School District has been extensive and transformational. Under his leadership, our district has been recognized across the nation and the state.”

Dr. Harner was recently voted to the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Board of Governors by the superintendents of Bucks County schools, and he was described by Pennsylvania education leaders as a highly experienced strategic innovator and a champion for children and public education.

He previously served as the Acting Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Superintendent of Cumberland Valley School District in Pennsylvania and Greenville County Schools in South Carolina, Deputy to the CEO of Philadelphia School District, and Principal of Gainesville Middle School in Georgia and Hilton Head High School in South Carolina.

His exceptional work has been recognized by the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, which awarded him the Torch of Global Enlightenment Award for 2020. Honorees represent the highest ideals of global engagement and enlightenment. Dr. Harner was specifically recognized for exemplifying the ideals of inclusiveness, respect for diversity, multiculturalism, and interfaith dialogue. Under his leadership, QCSD was honored by The Peace Center for implementing its diversity and inclusion program for elementary school students, “Celebrating Me, Celebrating You,” at a district-wide level. Dr. Harner was nationally recognized during his service in two previous school districts for gifted education and building comprehensive library programs.

“I am incredibly proud of our team, our work in QCSD, and all we have accomplished,” he said. “I am excited to embark on my next chapter.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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